Shri Rahul Gandhi addressed the closing ceremony of ‘Nav Sankalp Shivir’, Udaipur, on May 15, 2022.
Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi Ji, Members of the Congress Working Committee, PCC Presidents and CLP Leaders, AICC Office Bearers, Delegates of the Shivir, friends, I would like to welcome all of you here today.
We have been having discussions now for the last few days and the leadership of the Congress Party has been taking part in these discussions. I was involved in some of the discussions. I went to all the rooms and while I was listening to the discussions, all of you and of course, those discussions were held in closed rooms, so the people of our country don’t know the level of conversation that was taking place, the type of conversation that was taking place, the intelligence of the conversation that was taking place, but, I got to see it and while I was watching this, I was asking myself the question- which other political party in this country would allow this type of conversation? A conversation, where the senior most leadership is bluntly told without holding back, without any hesitation is bluntly told what the Congress Party feels? I was thinking to myself, certainly the RSS and the BJP would never allow such a thing. In fact, many of our leaders Arya Ji is here, many of our leaders who have come back, have said to me exactly what the BJP allows them to say and doesn’t allow them to say. Arya Ji himself told me that as a Dalit in the BJP he had no place. As a Dalit in the BJP, he was humiliated every single day. These are his words and there are other parties, regional parties and with all respect, even the regional parties would not tolerate the type of conversation that we have just had and this conversation, this is not something new in the Congress. This didn’t happen just yesterday or day before. We are attacked for it, every day in the media we are attacked, because we allow conversation inside our party, every day we are attacked, but there is a reason, we allow conversation.
This party’s DNA is a conversation between the people of this country. Doesn’t matter, where they come from, doesn’t matter whether they are rich or poor, what community they are from- Hindi, Muslim, Sikh, Christian, anybody. This party has always provided a platform for a conversation; a platform, where people can speak without fear, without worry and that is what this party continues to do. Unfortunately, this is not how the politics of the country is progressing. The politics of the country now, doesn’t entail a conversation. It doesn’t entail the expression of views. It doesn’t entail the expression of feelings.
Some days back in Parliament, I made a speech, where I said- India, Bharat, is a Union of States. That is the line, that is written in our Constitution. India is not described as a nation; it is described as a Union of States; meaning- the States of India, the people of India have come together to form the union. They have come together to form the union and it is critical for the union in this country that the States and the people are allowed to have a conversation, because the only alternative and I say this with full responsibility, the only alternative to a conversation between the people of India is violence between the people of India.
You can either choose to have a conversation between the people of India or then you can choose to have violence between the people of India. And this conversation that takes place between the people of India, between the States of India - the instruments of this conversation, the mechanism of this conversation are the institutions that the Congress Party, that your great leaders Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Patel, Azad Ji, Ambedkar Ji have helped us create. These institutions do not belong to anyone individual. They do not belong to a political party, they belong to the Union of India, they belong to every single person in this union and today what we are seeing is the systematic destruction of the institutions that help India, help the States of India speak to each other. We see it, those of us who are in Parliament, we see it in Parliament house. Our mics are shut off, members are thrown out of the house, conversations are not allowed. We see it, when the judiciary is pressurized. We see it, when the arms of the election commissioner are twisted. We see it, when the media is muzzled and we say- okay. We lightly say that the conversation is being muzzled, but, what we do not understand, is the consequence of this muzzling. India does not understand it yet. Most people in this country do not understand, because the day this country’s institutions stop working, the day this country stops speaking to itself, the day this country does not communicate with itself effectively, is the day when we will all be in very serious trouble and you can already see the tension. It is there for everybody to see. You speak to the people from the press. They will tell you that we are muzzled.
You speak to the political class, speak to the leaders, every single politician knows the word Pegasus. There is no single politician in this country who does not know what Pegasus is. Pegasus is not a software; Pegasus is the method of silencing the political class of this country. It is not simply a software. It is the way to strangle the political discussion in this country and so this is what we are seeing. Now the question is, how does the Congress party respond to this? It is a question on all your minds.
We see economic collapse. Some days back the Prime Minister said- we are going to be exporting wheat and then suddenly, few days later, we are not going to be exporting. We are going to put a ban on the export of wheat.
My friends from Punjab and the rest of the country know the impact of the farm laws. You know what the farm laws were designed to do and you know the devastation and the pain that the farm laws caused to the people of Punjab and had they not been stopped, what would happen to Punjab and you know, you spoke to me yesterday. You know what is happening in Punjab today and the feelings that are rampant in Punjab today.
Translated from Hindi The youth of India today cannot get employment. Narendra Modi ji talked about giving employment to 2 crores of our youth. There has never been more unemployment than today and these are the figures given by them, not our figures. Why, because the backbone that creates employment has been broken by Narendra Modi ji, BJP and their ideology by implementing demonetization, GST, and the full benefit is being given to two-three big industrialists. Through this, the government has destroyed the future of the youth of India and in the coming times you will get to see that the youth of the country will not be able to get employment. There is unemployment on the one hand, inflation on the other. There has been a war in Ukraine, inflation will increase tremendously in the times to come, and what we used to call as the demographic dividend, there is a danger that the demographic dividend will turn into a demographic disaster.
Who is responsible for this? - Congress party is not responsible for this. The BJP is responsible for this. The government is responsible. But even we have a responsibility. It is our responsibility to fight the battle of ideology and stand with the people. Our complaint is, we have a complete discussion, our entire conversation is in our own internal matter. Who is getting which post? - our focus remains internal and that would not suffice in today's time. Our focus will have to be external focus. We will have to look towards the people. We will have to go to the people and not only for us, but for the country. The entire discussion in the press is about the position of the Congress party. We should sit in the midst of the people without any prejudice. Their problems should be understood and we have to accept that the connection of the Congress party with the people is broken. We have to reinstate that connection and the people want it. The public understands that only the Congress party can do this work. People understand that only Congress party can take the country forward. This is our responsibility and the Congress party has taken a decision. It has been decided in October that the entire Congress party will go to the public, will tour and will strengthen its connection with the public, it has to be called a Will make you strong again. This is the only way for us and it is not going to happen with a short cut. If anyone thinks that this work can be done by short cuts, I tell you that this work cannot be done with short cuts. This work will be done only by investing in hard work, without which nothing could be achieved and you guys can do it. You have the potential. We all have the potential and this is our DNA. We are born from the public. This organization has come out of the public. So, we have to go to the public once again.
About the Congress Party, many things have been discussed; about our economic policies, about our political positions, about youngsters, the future of India’s youth, the weaker sections, farmers, we had all these discussions and we have prepared papers that give us a clear direction on where we have to go, but I do feel that there are some things which are already in those papers, which I would like to repeat here, which the Congress Party must think very seriously about doing.
I have said that we must have a mass contact programme, where all of us, regardless of our age, our position, where all of us go to the people of India and spend, not one day- two days, but months, with the people of India. Understand what the people of India want and what the people of India are saying; understand what the farmers want, what the labourers want. This to me is the first step. The second step is transforming the nature of the Congress Party. Not the nature in terms of its thinking, not the nature in terms of its ideology, but its nature in terms of the way we do our work. 21st century is about communication and if there is one area, where our opponents outdo us, it is in communication. They have much more money than us and they are better at communication than we are, so we must think about communication, completely reform our communication systems and communicate with the people of India, with the youngsters in a new way. This is a recommendation that has already been made, I am just repeating it.
I think, the idea that certain numbers of positions should be for younger people, is a very important idea. I am not saying that there should be no older people, but I am saying that when it comes to DCCs, when it comes to BCCs, when it comes to our leadership, we should have a healthy mix of youngsters and seniors and I think, the time has come, where we aggressively do this; where we aggressively put new DCCs, new BCCs. There are DCCs, who have been there for 15-20 years. We aggressively change these DCCs and BCCs and make them the pivot of the party and make sure that the young, dynamic and fully trained in the ideas and the ideology of the Congress Party so they can take on the vicious propaganda and the divisive politics of the RSS.
I also feel and that has also been stated that we must ensure the idea that one person of a family should get a ticket. I know, Venugopal has made a caveat to that, but I do think that it is very important that we limit the number of family members that are involved in our organization. Let them work, let them develop and then let them join the organization, but we must not have a situation where 5 or 6 or 7 members of a family are in the organization. So, I think, these things are of importance.
Translated from Hindi From my perspective, I am your family, you are my family. I'm not just talking about you. You, we are family and I am not just talking about you, there are 500-600 people here, but I am talking about every Congress leader, every worker. This is a family and I am a member of your family.
My fight is with the ideology of RSS and BJP which is a threat to our country. The hatred these people spread, they spread violence, I fight against it and I want to fight. This is the battle of my life for me. I am not ready to believe that so much hatred, so much anger and violence can spread in my beloved country, in our beloved country. I am not ready to accept it.
There are big powers working against us these days - the RSS-BJP organization and all the institutions of India. Don't you think that we are fighting just a political Party. We are not fighting only one political party. Political party is just a part. We are fighting every institution of India. We are fighting against the biggest crony capitalist of India. This is the truth. But I want to tell every Congress worker and I want to say to the Congress leaders that there is no need to panic because this country believes in truth and understands it. This is the country of truth and this country is gradually getting to understand the matter. This country is being witness to the condition of the country. So, I want to tell you that I will stand with you all my life and I am going to fight this battle with you. I'm not afraid of these powers, no matter what. I have not resorted to corruption in my life, I have not taken a single rupee, I have no fear. I have not taken a single penny from Mother India and I am not afraid to speak the truth. So, I want to tell you this, to the Congress workers, this fight is the fight of all of us. We are all involved in this fight. I am there with you, all our senior leaders, all our Congress Presidents are there with you. Together we will defeat the organization and ideology of BJP and RSS.
Sometimes our senior leaders, who are activists, sometimes go into a little depression, which is normal, because the fight is not easy. Do not think that this battle is easy. This battle cannot be fought by a regional party, because it is a battle of ideology. You have seen that the ideology of RSS is fighting against the ideology of Congress. BJP will talk about Congress, will talk about Congress leaders, will talk about Congress workers, but will not talk about regional parties, because they know that regional parties have their own place, but they cannot defeat BJP. Because they don't have ideology. They have different approaches. We have a centralized approach and we have a fight for ideology. So, this is not an easy fight and it is not just a political fight either. This is a fight for the future of the country and it is a fight to save the country, you will see. This fight has just begun. And because of these reasons you will see in the coming time, there will be a lot of turmoil in India.
I talked about Covid. Remember, I am saying this, as much as they try to break the institution, as much as they destroy the conversation between our state, between religions, between castes, as much as they suppress, the more vigorous the fire will be ignited among the people of the country. I speak clearly and the job of the Congress party is to restart that conversation. The job of the Congress party is to protect the institutions we have. This is our work, no regional party will do it, BJP will not do it, RSS will not do it, only Congress will do this work. We never attacked the institutions of India. We never installed our detective workers from the Congress party inside the Institution of India. RSS and BJP are doing this work. Not only in the institution, they are installing their people everywhere and the conversation that happens, the conversation that takes place between people, is getting ended.
On one hand there is rampant unemployment, youth are not able to see the way, there is inflation and on the other hand you are breaking the institutional structure of India. The conversations that take place within India, are being stopped which will cause a great fire of agitation and it is our responsibility to prevent that fire. It is our responsibility to go among the people and tell the people that you are being divided, you are being broken and this does not strengthen the country, it weakens the country. This will not benefit either of us. It will only cause harm. This is our responsibility, this is the responsibility of our workers, this is the responsibility of our leaders and this work can be done only by the people of Congress party, because Congress party is people’s party. There is no caste, no religion, no such person in this country who can say that the Congress party has closed its doors to him/her. There is no such person in this country.
Regional party belongs to a caste particular. They are not of all. This is the only party which is the party of the whole country. So, I wanted to tell you that there is no need to panic. We will take to streets. We will come out on the streets and fight the ideology of BJP-RSS, as Congressmen fight, with all our might.
All of you came here and showed us the way forward. You gave us a direction. Senior leaders showed us, told us, where we should go and I think, there is a lot of clarity in terms of where the Congress Party has to go, in terms of policy, in terms of thinking, what our position should be, what our political position should be. I think, there is tremendous clarity that has come out of this discussion. In fact, you, yourselves have told me that there is a lot of clarity that has come out of this discussion. I think that these discussions are very useful and I think, we should have these discussions, much more often, much more systematically.
It allows the Congress Party to come together. It allows us to feel like a family. It allows us to talk to each other and I think, it helps us move forward in a strong and dynamic way. So, I would like to thank all of you for coming here today. Namaskar! Jai Hind!