Threats to ideas, structure of India, erosion of institutions: 2015-22, Rahul Gandhi @campus
Speaking at the [email protected] event at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge on May 23, senior Congressman Rahul Gandhi said: “My problem with the RSS and the Prime Minister is that they manipulate the fundamental structure of India. When you play the politics of polarization, when you isolate and demonize 200 million people, you are doing something extremely dangerous and you are doing something that is fundamentally against the idea of India.
From Berkeley in September 2017 to Cambridge in May 2022, Rahul Gandhi has repeatedly addressed foreign universities over the past five years, off Indian campuses. While during this period Congress suffered successive defeats in the polls, reaching its lowest point on record, the leader of the party did not digress much from his main themes – these being “the ‘stifling of conversation’ by the BJP government, the ‘capture of India’s institutions’, including the media, and ‘denial to the opposition of a level playing field’.
Speaking at the May 23 event in Cambridge, he said Prime Minister Narendra Modi was creating a vision of India that was not “inclusive”, adding: “I have studied Hinduism in sufficient detail to tell you that there is absolutely nothing Hindu about wanting to murder people and beat people. »
Five years ago, Rahul addressed a similar event – India @ 70 – at UC Berkeley. In his speech, he said that “hatred, anger and violence and politics of polarization had reared its ugly head in India today”, and that liberal institutions were being eroded.
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During his online interviews and interactions in March and April 2021 for different universities – with Professor Kaushik Basu for Cornell University, Professor Ashutosh Varshney for Brown University and US diplomat Nicholas Burns for Harvard – Rahul said that the BJP and the RSS captured the Indian institutional framework.
“There is not a single institution that is not attacked and this is done systematically. The judiciary, the press, the bureaucracy, the electoral commission… every institution is systematically filled with people who have a particular ideology and belong to a certain institution… I wouldn’t say erode, I would say strangle,” he said. in such an interaction.
In his conversation with Basu, he said that even if the BJP were defeated, it would be difficult to get rid of people from the “institutional structure”.
In Varshney he said, “Even Saddam Hussein and Gaddafi used to have elections and win them, but there was no institutional framework to protect that vote.” He also said that electoral democracy can be “destroyed” in the 21st century if one can control social media and have financial dominance.
Speaking to students at the IMT business school in Dubai, in January 2019, Gandhi said India’s “ethos” is based on “tolerance”.
In India, where most of his campus events have been informal interactions with students – the most recent being with students at St Theresa’s College Kochi in March 2021 – Rahul spoke along similar lines.
In Sainte-Thérèse, a student inquired about the state of the Congress, to which he replied that his party believed in “conversation” with the different castes, groups, religions of the country. “The conversation has broken down nationwide.”
Speaking to students at Stella Maris College, Chennai during the 2019 elections, he said he had ‘genuine’ affection for Modi, adding, “People who have no affection for others are those who are not liked… That’s why he (Modi) generates anger.
He also interacted with University of Delhi students in February 2019 as part of a #YoungIndiaRising event. Here he pointed to the “concentration” of wealth with a select few, saying “privatization” helps them.
When asked if intolerance is increasing in the country, Rahul said the country’s story is one of ‘bhaichaara (unity)’ and the situation could improve if the prime minister conveys these messages to the people. .
Even in November 2015, when he addressed a group of 2,000 students at Mount Carmel College in Bangalore, he spoke along the same lines: “The idea of India is to live and let live, but the mentality of BJP and RSS is to make one Indian fight against another. .”
At the same event, Gandhi said the BJP does not believe in holding talks with the opposition. “They just know how to silence the voices,” Rahul said.
In a more casual conversation during one of these interactions, the Congress leader told St. Therese students that he had been trained in aikido, a Japanese martial art, and offered advice on how to self-defense to a student. At the protest, he said, “Society in India will kick you, insult you and prevent you from pursuing your interests. You need to understand where this push is coming from and position yourself accordingly. Power is situational and you have to realize how that power is applied and take control.