Rahul?s statement may have cost him more than what he bargained for

By Karan Anand

At an event in New York, Congress Vice President, Rahul Gandhi said that Congress was originally a Non-resident Indian (NRI) movement. He also claimed that the founding fathers of our nation including, people like Nehru, Mahatma Gandhi, Patel and Azad, were all NRIs. His comment stemmed from the fact that all these leaders studied abroad and returned to India with new ideas which they integrated into the nation. Gandhi stated, “Some people view India as a geographical construct. They view India as a piece of land. I don’t view India as a piece of land. I view India as a set of ideas. So for me, anybody who has the ideas that make up India is an Indian.” Catering to his NRI audience, Gandhi also praised other NRIs for their significant contributions in India. He talked about Verghese Kurien, who had helped to “usher in the white revolution.” He said that Sam Pitroda “single-handedly transformed the telecom industry. We don’t want one Sam Pitroda. We want at least 10-15 Sam Pitrodas to transform India because there’s a lot of work to be done in India.”

An existential crisis to an alternative narrative

Following ‘Mahagathbandhan’ in Bihar, Congress has been ruling in 6 states, and it is safe to say that the party is going through its worst phase. Congress has seen difficult times earlier as well, but now they seem to be going through an existential crisis. Their pro-poor narrative has been hijacked by the BJP and so has been the votes of the poor and middle-class. The party has no idea who their core vote bank is. Attempting to find a solution to this problem, Rahul Gandhi wants to include the NRIs in their voter base. Rahul Gandhi has been in the United States since the past two weeks, talking to the Indians abroad. Addressing the NRIs, Pitroda said Congress “needs help today” and that they can become “ambassadors of our values

A paradoxical strategy to gain votes

In a bid to find an alternate voter base, Rahul Gandhi may have committed yet another blunder. Catering to the NRIs may turn out to be useful as they could earn a few NRI votes. However, by calling them the “backbone” of the country, Rahul may further alienate the already distant voter base back home. His immature comment may have added a few lakh votes, but the number of votes they might have lost back home is probably greater. Instead of calling them the “backbone” and alienating the voters back home, he could have just praised the NRIs.

Fact-checking Gandhi’s words

His statements are not only politically immature but also factually wrong. People like Nehru, Gandhi, and Azad all went abroad either to study or to ignite political movements back home. India was seriously distressed during those times. They were also deficient with European standards of education, which is why many Indians opted for foreign education. Just because the founding fathers of our nation went abroad to serve some purpose, it doesn’t make them NRIs. They were just like any other Indian who sought other places to discover what wasn’t available here.

Sonia needs to step in

Congress is in distress and with such public statements like this, the situation is bound to worsen. It is about time now for Sonia Gandhi to step in and ensure that her son is careful with his words. As far as Rahul Gandhi is concerned, his days in politics are numbered. It is because of such comments that he is not considered a good politician. He needs to introspect but most importantly, start getting his speeches approved by political analysts.

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