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Posted at: Jan 12, 2017, 1:55 AM; last updated: Jan 12, 2017, 2:05 AM (IST)

‘Achhe din’ only under Cong in 2019: Rahul

‘Achhe din’ only under Cong in 2019: Rahul
Congress vice-chief Rahul Gandhi with former PM Manmohan Singh at the party convention in New Delhi. Mukesh Aggarwal

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 11

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi today virtually dared Prime Minister Narendra Modi to win a second term for the ruling coalition by claiming that the promise of “achhe din” would be realised only when the Congress returned to power in the 2019 Lok Sabha poll.

Speaking to a galaxy of top Congress leaders and 6,000 delegates at a daylong convention against demonetisation here, Rahul tore into PM’s economic and ideological agenda, calling upon cadres to defeat the BJP and the RSS, and predicting a win for the party in 2019.

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In a scathing critique of demonetisation, he said the move had brought ridicule upon the PM. Modi’s new smokescreen of demonetisation had run out of steam like Clean India, Make in India, etc, he said. “For the first time, the PM of India is being ridiculed the world over. Every single economist says demonetisation is an incompetent and a badly thought-out decision. The PM says he wants to transform India. 

Then why are people returning to villages looking for jobs? This is not the transformation India was looking for. ‘Achhe din’ are possible only when the Congress comes back to power in 2019,” Rahul said, speaking for the first time as the chair of Congress’ national convention with party chief Sonia Gandhi staying away, signaling the ascendance of her son to the party throne.

That Rahul is the new master of ceremonies in the Congress and its de facto chief was evident from top leaders, including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, P Chidambaram, Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel and all AICC general secretaries lining up outside at Talkatora stadium, the venue, for customary receiving of Congress president for a national conclave.

Sonia Gandhi’s presence at the event was limited to a reading of her New Year greetings by Rahul, who spoke to home crowds with ease, mocking PM’s programmes like Clean India and even questioning his yoga credentials.

“I observed the yoga session at India Gate. He (the PM) could not perform the Padmasana. I am no great yoga practitioner myself, but I am told anyone who knows yoga knows padmasana,” Rahul said to crowds that cheered, indicating acceptance for the Amethi MP in his mother’s place.

Politically, too, Gandhi made his address a Congress versus Modi affair by repeatedly targeting the PM and his policies as “fashions that change with the times”. “The PM jumps from one issue to another,” he said.

On the RSS-BJP combine, Rahul toed his known line that the saffron family rules by spawning fear and it was up to the Congress to fight that fear. “Daro mat (don’t fear)”, was Rahul’s message to cadres as the Congress announced a second set of agitation on demonetisation starting with a gherao of the RBI and its 33 regional offices across India on January 18 followed by Jan Vedna panchayats in all assembly segments between January 20-25.

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