Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday said the media had “crucified” him and his own party members had “attacked” him for pushing for elections in the youth body and student organisation of the party.
Addressing a question about Congress’ internal democracy, Mr Gandhi, who was participating through video conference in a webinar organised by US university Cornell said he was the “first-person” to say that democratic election within the party is absolutely critical.
“I am the person who pushed elections in youth organisation and student organisation, and got a serious beating in the press for that. I was literally crucified for doing elections. I was attacked by my own party people. I am the first person that says democratic election within the party is absolutely critical but it is interesting to me that this question is not asked about any other political party,” he said.
The Wayanad MP’s remarks come in the backdrop of a recent rally in Jammu of Congress leaders, including the G-23 or the 23 senior dissenting leaders who had last year questioned the party’s functioning in a letter to interim president Sonia Gandhi. They also demanded internal elections in Congress.
Meanwhile, Gandhi during the Cornell interaction claimed that democracy in India is being strangled by the systemic penetration of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s (RSS) in all institutions in the country.
“Modern democracies function because there is institutional balance in a country. Institutions that operate independently. That independence is being attacked in India. Now there is one big institution called RSS that is penetrating all Indian institutions. There is not a single one that is not being attacked and it is being systematically done,” he said.
The former Congress president said the judiciary, the press, the bureaucracy, the Election Commission, among other institutions are being systematically filled by people who have a particular ideology and belong to a certain institution.
Mr Gandhi said he can do his job as a politician only if all state institutions support him in the process. “I get support from the judiciary, I get support from the Election commission and a whole number of institutions that support the debate. If I don’t get the support I literally can not do my job,” he stated.
Congress leader said he did not understand the profoundness of the “strangling of democracy in India” until he faced it himself. “During debates in Parliament, our mikes are being shut off. We are not allowed to speak in Parliament. We don’t have recourse with the courts. RSS-BJP has a massive financial advantage. Businesses are told they can not support the opposition. It is a full-scale assault on the democratic space,” he added.
Mr Gandhi further added that in India there is only one institution and all other institutions are “pretend institutions” supporting that one institution. Citing examples, he said “MPs from Manipur say their Governor doesn’t do her job, thinking that she holds an ideological post, not a constitutional one. In Puducherry Lieutenant Governor subverts the democratic process openly, not allowing bills to pass as she belongs to RSS.”