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Posted at: Sep 13, 2017, 1:28 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2017, 11:23 AM (IST)

‘Absolutely ready’ for executive role, says Rahul

Politics or business, dynasties fact of life in India, says Cong V-P | Attacks PM Modi’s fiscal moves, J&K policy
‘Absolutely ready’ for executive role, says Rahul
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi delivering a speech at Institute of International Studies at UC Berkeley, California on Monday. PTI

Washington, September 12

Brushing off suggestions that the Congress was synonymous with dynastic politics, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi said today that dynasties were a fact of life in India, whether it be in politics or business, and insisted that the real test of a person was not pedigree but ability.

His comments in the US set off a chorus of protest by the BJP in India with Union Minister Smriti Irani calling him a “failed dynast” and a failed politician. Speaking at the University of California, Berkeley, Gandhi hit out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accusing him of divisive politics, creating space for terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir and ruining economy.

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Responding to a question from students, Rahul said he was “absolutely ready” to take up an executive responsibility, if the party asked him to do so. To another question whether the Congress was more associated with dynastic politics, he argued that India was being run by dynasties. “Most parties in India have that problem So...Mr Akhilesh Yadav is a dynast. Mr Stalin (son of M Karunanidhi of DMK) is a dynast... even Abhishek Bachchan is a dynast. That’s how India runs. So don’t get after me because that’s how India is run. By the way, last I recall, the Ambanis are running the business. That’s also going on in Infosys. So that’s what happens in India,” he said as he listed several prominent Indians born into famous families.

He also pointed out that a large number of people in the Congress were not from dynastic families. “And I can name them in every state. There are also people who happen to have a father, or a grandmother or a great grandfather in politics. The real question is whether the person is capable and a sensitive person,” the 47-year-old leader said.

He admitted that around 2012, the Congress “stopped having conversations with the people”. This could be a problem with any party in power for 10 years, he remarked. “The vision that we laid out in 2004 was designed at best for a 10-year period. And it was pretty clear that the vision that we laid out in 2004 by the time we arrived in 2010-11 was not working anymore. “Somewhere around 2012, a certain arrogance crept into the Congress. And they stopped having that conversation.” Asked if he wanted to take up an executive role in the Congress, he responded, saying, “I am absolutely ready to do that”. 

However, he said it was the party that had to make that decision. He also said the BJP was implementing most of the programmes initiated during the Congress' rule.

"The central architecture they borrowed from us. But that architecture does not work. Because we know it. It stopped working," he said. He claimed that Mahatma Gandhi's idea of non-violence was under attack in India. He flayed Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign policy.     "Whereas I completely agree with their positioning as far as the (ties with) US is concerned, I think they're making India vulnerable because, if you look at Nepal, the Chinese are there. If you look at Burma the Chinese are there. If you look at Sri Lanka, the Chinese are there. If you look at Maldives, the Chinese are there. 

"So on basic direction (of the foreign policy) I agree... friendship with the United States, close bond with United States. But don't isolate India, because it gets dangerous," Rahul said. — PTI

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