Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who reached Hamburg yesterday as part of his four-day-long tour of United Kingdom and Germany, addressed a gathering at the Kampnagel Theater, Bucerius Summer School for more than an hour and also took questions from students from across the world.
With less than a year to go for the Lok Sabha Elections, Gandhi spoke on an array of issues like demonetisation, atrocities against Dalits, absence of opportunities for minorities and the growing trend of mob lynchings. On the economic front, the Congress chief also spoke of how the implementation of a faulty Goods and Services Tax (GST) and demonetisation hit the country hard. Lack of jobs also featured on his list of issues that he outlined for India at the gathering yesterday.
"It is very dangerous in the 21st century to exclude people," the Congress president said at the Bucerius Summer School in Hamburg, accusing the ruling BJP of excluding tribals, Dalits and minorities from the development narrative.
"If you don't give people a vision in the 21st century, somebody else will. And that's the real risk of excluding a large number of people from the development process," he said.
While a lot of what Gandhi spoke has come in for criticism from the BJP, especially the remark where he talked about the genesis of the ISIS and then spoke of how absence of opportunities for minorities to progress could turn into a worry for India, or when he said that the jobs crisis in India was responsible for the rising trend of mob lynchings, the speech did outline the major issues that the Congress president and the party are going to take forward into the all-important Lok Sabha election 2019.
After the US attacked Iraq in 2003, Rahul Gandhi said, they brought a law that stopped a particular tribe in Iraq from getting jobs in the government and in the army. "It seemed like a very innocuous decision at that time. But it resulted in a large number of people joining insurgency that fought the US and caused massive casualties," he said.
"It didn't end there. That insurgence slowly entered empty spaces. It entered the empty space in Iraq and in Syria and then it connected with...a horrific idea called ISIS," Mr Gandhi said.
The BJP interpreted the comments as a "threat" and said Rahul Gandhi should apologise for the "veiled justification of terrorism".
Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said: "I do not understand the logic behind Rahul Gandhi's threat. This is a country that has rejected the idea of ISIS and earlier the idea of al-Qaeda as well... I do not understand the meaning of this threat - if you do not do this, that will happen. In fact, he or the Congress party should not say anything that will encourage such forces."
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra also condemned the remarks.
"Horrified to hear Congress President Rahul Gandhi justifying the formation of ISIS in Syria and giving out a veiled threat that if Modiji (Prime Minister Narendra Modi) doesn't give vision to India then soon someone else(read ISIS) would give the vision," Mr Patra said.
"Unbelievable. He's a PM aspirant," he remarked, demanding the Congress president's apology.
With attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi turning out to be Rahul’s favourite strategy ahead of polls, here is a look at the issues that Rahul Gandhi touched upon during his speech in Germany.Dalits
With an aim to woo the Dalits, Gandhi talked about the government “excluding” a large number of people from the development process. “It is very dangerous in the 21st century to exclude people. If you don’t give people a vision in the 21st century somebody else will give them one. And that’s the real risk of excluding a large number of people from our development processes.”
“They (the BJP government) feel that tribal communities, poor farmers, lower caste people, minorities shouldn’t get the same benefits as the elite,” the Congress president alleged. Gandhi claimed that the other thing the BJP has done is that they have started attacking the support structures created to help certain groups of people. “That is not the only damage they’ve done. There is something much more dangerous,” he said.Jobs and DeMo
Asserting that the transformation taking place in the world requires certain protection for people, Gandhi accused the ruling NDA government of taking these away from them and hitting the informal economy hard through demonetisation. He alleged that PM Modi “demonetised the Indian economy and destroyed the cash flow” of all small and medium businesses rendering millions jobless.GST
Goods and Services Tax (GST) has been one of the key measures taken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and has come in for criticism from the Congress in equal measure. “They imposed a badly conceptualised GST which complicated lives further,” Gandhi said. “Large numbers of people who worked in small businesses were forced back to the villages and these three things that the government has done has made India angry,” Gandhi said.Lynching
Gandhi has also talked about incidents of lynching across India. “…what you get to read in the newspapers. When you hear about lynchings, when you hear about attacks on Dalits in India, when you hear about attacks on minorities in India” Gandhi said. Gandhi has also said that excluding people in the 21st Century is very dangerous. “If you don’t give people a vision in the 21st century, somebody else will. And that’s the real risk of excluding a large number of people from the development process,” Gandhi said.
Outlining his idea of India’s foreign policy, Gandhi said there are different visions in the world, including that of the US, China and India. He said India’s role should be to balance the US and China – much like Europe’s role.