Rahul Gandhi at his Aggressive Best in Guwahati Rally
GUWAHATI: For party members who had submitted applications for the 14 Lok Sabha seats it was the time to show their muscle and money power. For those who wanted to remain in the party good books it was time to ensure how efficiently the rally was being organised and of course, the number of people they could muster.
The rally gave inputs to those reporting the event that Congress workers from all levels have gained some hope in their young leader. One could witness shouting and cheering that followed after almost every sentence that the leader spoke against the BJP and the RSS - as if the crowd was in-sync with what the party president had to say.
Also, Rahul Gandhi's stance has changed. If we look at his earlier public meetings from 2014 Lok Sabha elections we see a complete makeover: Rahul is aggressive and confident. Now, when he speaks, it just shows that he is in charge and knows what he is talking about. This is what is slowly drawing crowds to his rallies and also increasing his popularity among the party workers and common people. One can easily understand by a look at the huge dais set up at the Khanapara veterinary ground on who was in command.
Gandhi started his speech by remembering those who died in the hooch tragedy of Golaghat and the Pulwama attack and congratulated the pilots of the Indian Air Force. Then he moved on to the public resentment in nearby Arunachal Pradesh that was making headlines. Attacking the RSS and BJP Rahul said, “There are two types of ideologies in this country at the moment – on one side the BJP-RSS-Narendra Modi's ideology of hatred and anger and on the other side the Congress party and the citizens of this country.”
Rahul Gandhi's speech was focused on the northeast and how the BJP and RSS were ruining the region through their agenda. “There is an attack on your history, your language and your way of life. Not only Assam, the RSS is attacking all the states of the northeast. The ideology of RSS has burnt every northeast state. It has burnt Arunachal, Assam, Tripura, Manipur, Meghalaya and Nagaland. They have not spared a single state,” accused Rahul.
“After Narendra Modi's government came to power in 2014 and after Assam and Arunachal saw BJP governments come to power they have started attacking your identity. The Congress is going to stop this and save the history and culture of the northeast. We will give a befitting reply to BJP, Narendra Modi and Mohan Bhagwat,” said Gandhi to a cheering crowd of supporters.
The Congress president accused the RSS and BJP of taking back the special status to Assam provided by the erstwhile Congress government. “They have taken away your special status, and from this stage itself I declare, the moment Congress comes back to power we will grant you special status,” promised Gandhi.
Rahul has been aggressively attacking the BJP-led government over the employment issue and it continued in this rally, too. Citing data the president said, “Modi could give employment opportunities to just one lakh youths in a year.
Narendra Modi gives employment to just 450 people in a day but all you hear is Make in India everywhere.”
Speaking about the now scrapped North East Industrial Policy, the Congress chief accused the BJP of taking it away and promised to restore it. Rahul went on to promise many more and one of them was waiving off education loans of students from the northeast.
Rahul continued hitting the BJP-RSS of divisive politics across the country. “RSS spreads hatred and it is their thinking. Our thinking is to join the states, theirs is to divide. We want a peaceful Assam and BJP-RSS want to burn the state and the country so that it benefits a few businessmen.” Rahul then named the businessmen and related them to Narendra Modi.
The new approach of Rahul Gandhi is playing with numbers and blaming everything on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. His speech has lately been loaded with numbers and joining one plus one. He relates loan waivers to businesses with unemployment. He cites example of how much employment could have been generated through Rs 3,50,000 crores that he claims has been waived off by the BJP government to various businesses. There is very less doubt that this aggressiveness is going to increase as the election approaches. For the Congress party this public meeting was a kick-off to 2019 Lok Sabha polls for the northeast as all the Congress stalwarts and former CMs from the states were present. The rally was well attended by over 75000 people.
All in a Congress rally
For some people in the Assam Congress and All India Congress Committee, the recent visit of Rahul Gandhi to Guwahati gave sleepless nights for many days. Starting from inviting delegates and arranging meetings to bringing crowds to the rally, almost all the APCC functionaries were seen rushing in and out of Rajiv Bhawan prior to the rally. The objective was how much crowd they can arrange on the D-day that was 26th February.
Matching the recent Narendra Modi rally in Guwahati to a great extent seemed to be the objective. The Congress state machinery went into overdrive to ensure that the gathering would save their day. As the meeting was in Guwahati most of the load was to be taken by the assembly constituencies of the Gauhati Lok Sabha. But other Congress strongholds like Barpeta, Nagaon, Kaliabor and Mangaldoi which, due to the proximity to the meeting venue, provided a large number of Congress supporters. As one approached the venue roads could be seen filled with private buses. Some of the present MLAs and former MLAs have agreed to bring 2,000 workers each and that would mean anything from around 20 to 40 buses per entrusted soul.
Add that with a little bit of snacks and a lunch and you can imagine the bill that was footed by the operators. Well, the Congress believes it was a good day for the top functionaries and various middle-level leaders employed for the meeting as everything went fine till the end.