Politics

Rahul Gandhi's speech at University of California: Highlights

12 Sep 2017 | By Gogona Saikia
Rahul Gandhi's speech at the University of California

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was at the University of California, Berkeley, yesterday to address students on 'India at 70: Reflections on the Path Forward'.

During his two-week US visit, he is expected to travel to Los Angeles, visit the think-tank Aspen Institute and Princeton University, and address the Indian diaspora in New York.

Here are the highlights from his speech at Berkeley.

In context: Rahul Gandhi's speech at the University of California

12 Sep 2017Rahul Gandhi's speech at University of California: Highlights

DemocracyAbout India

"There is no democratic country which has raised so many people out of poverty as India," Gandhi said.

However, the idea of non-violence is under attack today, he added. Condemning mob lynching and journalists' murders, he said, "The politics of polarization is very dangerous."

"As Indira Gandhi was asked whether India will switch 'Left or Right'...she said it will stand straight and tall.

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PartyAbout Congress and dynastic politics

Gandhi said a "certain arrogance" had crept into the Congress in 2012. "We need to design a vision we can use moving forward."

Asked about being party president, he commented, "I am absolutely ready, but Congress works according to organizational elections."

On dynastic politics, Gandhi said many in India, like Akhilesh Yadav, MK Stalin, even Abhishek Bachchan are similar, "so don't go after me".

ModiAbout BJP and its policies

Gandhi slammed the BJP for its policies like demonetization and "hastily-implemented" GST. He said the former decision was taken without consulting even the CEA or the parliament.

He accused PM Narendra Modi of clamping down on RTI.

He also talked about a "BJP machine": "1,000 guys on computers…All they do is spread abuse about me." He accused Modi of running the "operation".

TerrorismAbout Kashmir

Gandhi said many Congress leaders including former PM Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram and Jairam Ramesh had worked extensively to remove terrorism in Kashmir.

"By 2013, we basically broke the back of terror (in Kashmir)," he said, calling it one of Singh's "biggest achievements".

But BJP did otherwise, he claimed. "(Modi) massively opened up space for the terrorists in Kashmir. You saw increase in violence."

A word of praise for Modi

"Modi has certain skills: he is a very good communicator. He knows how to give a message to 3-4 different groups in a crowd, his messaging ability is very effective. What I sense is he doesn't converse with people he works with."