Rahul Gandhi says he is against monopolisation, not industry
Turuvekere (Karnataka), October 8, 2022
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today said he had no problem with the huge investments being made by Gautam Adani in Rajasthan, a state ruled by his party, even though he has often attacked the industrialist for allegedly benefitting from his perceived proximity to the present regime in the country.
"Mr Adani has committed Rs 60,000 crore to Rajasthan. No Chief Minister can refuse such an offer. In fact, it would not be correct for a Chief Minister to refuse such an offer," he said when asked about the investment by the Adani Group during a press conference at Turuvekere in Tumkur district of Karnataka on the 31st day of the party's 150-day, 3500 km Bharat Jodo Yatra from Kanyakumari to Kashmir.
Gandhi said his opposition was to the use of political power to help certain chosen businesses and to a few large businesses being helped politically to monopolise every single business in the country.
"That is where my opposition is. I am in no way against the corporates. I am in no way against business, but I am against the complete monopolisation of Indian business that weakens the country, and today what we are seeing, what is being done by the BJP government, is complete monopolisation of all businesses, by helping a chosen few businesses, that's my problem," he said.
"Finally, the Rajasthan government has not used political power to help Mr Adani in Rajasthan. The day they do that, I will be standing in opposition," he said.
Gandhi's remarks came a day after Adani announced at the Invest Rajasthan Summit in Jaipur on Friday that his group expected to invest an additional Rs 65,000 crore in Rajasthan over the next five to seven years and create more than 40,000 direct and indirect jobs.
In response to a question about the ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI), he said his party was opposed to anyone spreading hatred in India. "Spreading hatred and violence in India is an anti-national act and we will fight anybody who spreads hatred and violence in this country," he said.
To the allegation that the new president of the Congress, after the October 17 party election, would be remote-controlled by current president Sonia Gandhi and himself, he said both the candidates (Mallikarjun Kharge and Shashi Tharoor) had perspective and were people of stature and understanding. "So I don't think either of them is going to be remote-controlled. I think, frankly, this tone is insulting to both of them," he said.
When asked about the BJP criticism of the Bharat Jodo Yatra and its allegation that the Congress was responsibile for the partition of the country, Gandhi said his understanding of Indian history was that it was the Congress which led the freedom struggle and won independence for the country.
"Last I recall that it was leaders of the Congress Party who fought the British, who spent years in jail. Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel, all these people, they gave their lives fighting the British. In my study of history, in my understanding, the RSS was helping the British. In my understanding, Savarkar used to get a stipend from the British. These are historical facts, these are not facts that the BJP can hide.
"The party that fought for independence and created a mass movement for independence, the party that helped bring the Constitution, the party that brought the Green Revolution, that's the Congress Party and it is interesting that the BJP comes out with these comments.... The BJP was nowhere to be found in the freedom struggle and the BJP is singularly dividing the nation and spreading hatred in this nation," he said.
He said lakhs of people were joining the yatra and it was now an expression of the people of India, who are tired of the type of politics being done, of the price rise, of unemployment and of the immense wealth that a few people are gaining.
To a question about alleged in-fighting in the Congress in Karnataka, Gandhi said that everybody in the party understood that, in order to win the next elections, they had to work together and as a team.
"That is exactly what is happening, and that is exactly what is going to happen," he said.
He said the Congress was not a fascist party but one that believed in conversation and discussion. "We are perfectly happy to have different viewpoints in the party," he said.
To another question about a possible alignment with the JD (S) in case the party did not get a clear mandate in next year's assembly elections in Karnataka, Gandhi said he was pretty certain his party would win the election hands down.
About the party's chief ministerial candidate, he said the Congress had a formidable team in Karnataka, leaders who are complementary. "Once we win the election, the decision on who is going to be Chief Minister is going to be taken thorugh a proces that is carried out in the Congress party," he said.
Gandhi also spoke at length about the objectives of the yatra and his own learnings from walking for the last one month.
"I stand, and have always stood, for certain ideas and that, of course, disturbs the BJP, disturbs the RSS and disturbs the other forces. Thousands of crores of media money, of media energy has been spent in trying to shape me in a way which is just untruthful and wrong. That machine is going to continue and that machine is very well oiled, very financially rich machine. My truth is different. It has always been different and the people, who care to look carefully, will see what I stand for and what my truth is," he said.
He said there definitely was a political element to the yatra but it was also a chance for him to bridge the distance between the political class and citizens.
"I believe in 'tapasya'... and so I wanted an element in this communication with people, I want an element of suffering for myself. I didn't want it to be easy," he said, explaining the idea of the 3,500-km journey on foot across the length of the country to meet and speak to people.
He said he it was clear to him that there is tremendous wisdom in the people, that is wasted by the type of politics and system running in the country.
He said there was also tremendous suffering in the people because they are unable, because of the system, to do what they need to do to become successful.
He said he had always found huge amount of support, not in terms of numbers, but from individuals, that is much more powerful.
Gandhi also answered questions about the New Education Policy, the problems of price rise and unemployment, and the border tensions with China.