New Delhi: Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday signalled his party’s intent to make opposition to demonetization its key poll plank for upcoming elections in five states, including the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh.
With this, not only has Rahul Gandhi established his leadership of the party’s strategy—the conspicuous absence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Wednesday reinforced the sentiment of a low key transition of power—it also takes the battle to Prime Minister Narendra Modi who has already made demonetization central to his party’s electoral message.
Rahul Gandhi had also presided over the party’s foundation day function for the first time in December last year as well as chaired a meeting of the party’s highest decision-making body.
At the Jan Vedna Sammelan, the Gandhi scion took a jibe at BJP’s 2014 electoral slogan of ‘achhe din’ or good days.
“He (Modi) jumps from things like ‘Clean India’ to surgical strikes, to let’s demonetize. It is jumping from one thing to another. People of India keep wondering when are the achhe din going to come? Let me tell the people of India, achhe din are only going to come when Congress comes to power in 2019," he said in his opening address laced with aggression.
“Demonetization is only an excuse. Narendra Modiji knows that he cannot hide behind yoga, ‘Skill India’ and ‘Make in India’...The result is that he has broken the financial spine of the country," he added.
In the concluding address at the convention, Gandhi played upon the rhetoric of the ruling BJP and the prime minister spreading an environment of fear and asked Congress workers to communicate this to the people. “Their (BJP’s) entire politics is based on converting fear into anger. And this has not happened in just 2-2.5 years, these people and their ideology have been doing this for thousand years now...They think we do not know anything, no one knows anything—only Narendra Modi knows everything," he said.
Political analysts feel that Congress will rake up demonetization as a common theme in all poll-bound states and agreed that Rahul Gandhi had effectively taken over the party reins.
“It is the third key meeting where Sonia Gandhi was not present, which in a way is seen as the unofficial transition of power. As far as demonetization is concerned, Congress is making it a key electoral issue because they could not come up with any other nationwide issue. It has, however, not worked till now as the party has not been able to rally around it effectively in the last two months," said N. Bhaskara Rao, a Delhi-based political analyst.
Several senior Congress leaders, including former PM Manmohan Singh and former finance minister P. Chidambaram, addressed the day-long convention.
“Modiji keeps saying he will transform Indian economy—we now know the beginning of the end has come. His propaganda of national income going up in the last 2 years has been proven to be hollow. Demonetization has hurt the country and things have gone from bad to worse," Singh said.