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NEW DELHI : Sharpening the attack on the government over its handling of the economy, the Congress will release on Thursday a video of a conversation between senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and former Reserve Bank of India governor Raghuram Rajan in which the two discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the economy.

The move, the first of its kind, is seen as marking a shift in the image of Gandhi who is finally taking steps to be more involved in the functioning of the party. Gandhi resigned as Congress president in July last year but speculation over his return to the top job has mounted in the party over the last few months. This month, he came on board an 11-member committee headed by former prime minister Manmohan Singh to ideate on national issues founded in the backdrop of the pandemic.

“@RahulGandhi will be interacting with former RBI Governor Dr. Raghuram Rajan on the critical issues related to covid-19 and its economic impact. Tune in tomorrow at 9am to watch this interaction on our social media platforms," Congress’ official Twitter handle posted on Wednesday night. The party also posted a trailer of the two discussing the pandemic and economic issues.


“The video is almost an hour long and is a detailed interactive discussion where both of them are asking questions to each others, mostly related to economy and impact of coronavirus pandemic. We are hopeful of beginning a dialogue with this process on the economic fallout so that more people would engage on the issue," a senior Congress leader aware of developments said requesting anonymity.

Rajan, currently a professor at the University of Chicago, was appointed by the Congress led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as the chief economic adviser in the finance ministry in 2012 for a year and later as the governor of the Reserve Bank of India in 2013 for a three year period. However, Rajan did not get a customary two year extension of his term at RBI after the Bharatiya Janata Party led National Democratic Alliance came to power in 2014 and he eventually demitted office in 2016.

As recent as last year, Rajan had said he offered his views to the Congress leadership on its key 2019 manifesto promise – NYAY or the Nyuntam Aay Yojana which promised minimum income guarantee scheme. In the run up to the national election campaign, which Congress eventually lost, Gandhi had then said that the party had consulted all the ‘big economists of the world’ including Rajan on NYAY.

According to a senior party functionary, more such engagements of Gandhi with sectoral experts and eminent public personalities are expected to take place over the next few months. “It is a constant process and at different levels of the party we keep engaging with stakeholders. We are planning that more such interactions of Rahul Gandhi will take place with experts to put the spotlight on key issues," the party functionary quoted above said requesting anonymity.

Rahul Gandhi’s resignation from the top post of the party last year had made way for the return of Congress’ longest serving party president Sonia Gandhi at the helm again. Rahul Gandhi has been Congress’ key face taking on the union government both inside and outside the Parliament. He has been vocal in making suggestions to the union government on ways to tackle the pandemic including writing letters to Modi and holding a virtual press conference to air his views.

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