Inside Rahul Gandhi’s Meeting With Women Journos
Rahul Gandhi touched upon everything from larger political questions, to his image and his mission 2019.
Video Editor: Mohd Ibrahim
Translator: Hera Khan
The email from the Congress party that day was not their usual press release. It surprised me.
It was an invitation to meet Rahul Gandhi. Congress had invited around 100 female journalists in Delhi to come meet their party chief.
A question loomed large – will Rahul really tell his “mann ki baat”?
During the meeting, everything from the larger political questions to Rahul’s image and his mission 2019 were touched upon.
Sometimes, the sound of laughter resonated in the room and other times an unease made its presence felt, but Rahul fielded every question – and these are the the 10 key takeaways from the meeting.
1. A Changed Rahul Gandhi
The difference between the Rahul Gandhi from a few years back and the Rahul in that meeting was stark. There was more self confidence than hesitation, more seriousness than diplomatic answers – the high point of the chat with Rahul.
From the Women's Reservation Bill to coalition politics and from Lynching to 'Jaadu Ki Jhappi', the women journalists shot every relevant question at him. Rahul opined, and also asked others for their opinion, so that he came across as a leader who doesn’t just talk but listens too.
2. ‘Got to Learn From BJP '
Rahul Gandhi knows that his calmness did not fetch him compliments few years back as it does today. He barely got any applause to his efforts in promoting secularism and unity in India.
In many of his responses, it seemed like Rahul knows that today there is a place for him in politics.
Explaining this he said that he has learnt a lot from the BJP in these four years. He now understands the country and his party better and is also able to see himself standing in the right place.
The question of Women's Reservation Bill and representation of women in the Congress Party was yet to come, but before that Rahul Gandhi psychoanalysed the BJP. He said:
“BJP is very angry and full of ego similar to that in men. But Congress is feminist in its approach.”Rahul Gandhi, Congress President
3. ‘Jaadu ki Jhappi’
During the no-confidence motion, Rahul Gandhi’s hug to Prime Minister Modi came as a huge surprise but Rahul said he cannot understand why Modi ji hates his family so much. He said:
“I had this idea for a long time now that I should hug PM Modi, but doing it during a speech didn’t seem right. That is why, when I finished my speech, I felt that was the right time to meet him and give him a hug. I think I should do this more often.”
4. 'Changing Government Will Solve Many Problems'
The obvious question many journalists had was what plans the Congress had in place to contain lynching and battling increasing negativity. Rahul’s answer was, a change in leadership.
According to Rahul, all this is happening due to encouragement from the government and it will stop when the government changes.
5. ‘Belief in Shiva-Shakti’
When Rahul was asked if he is a feminist, he said:
“This is a western ideology and I believe in the concept of Shiv-Shakti. We believe that there is both female and male in every human being, and feminism looks at both of them separately. I believe that we need to look at everyone as the same.”
6. Why Congress Lacks A Good Number of Female Leaders
During the discussions on the Women's Reservation Bill, Rahul was asked about the representation of women in the Congress party.
There are only 14% of women in the recently formed CWC. But instead of dodging the question, Rahul answered honestly. He agreed to a lack of female leaders in the Congress party and said he was working towards changing it.
“There is a need to build a pipeline so that big leaders can be trained and prepared. I know that there aren’t many women in the Congress. But you can’t just hand over a senior position to anyone, that wouldn’t be right. We need to create an environment in which everyone can learn, and that is my job. I can assure you that you will soon see more women in the Congress party.”Rahul Gandhi, Congress President
7. Prime Ministerial Options are Open
On the important political question of Mayawati or Mamata Banerjee becoming Prime Minister, Rahul’s immediate answer was – “I have no objection”. The Congress president made it clear that, at the moment, his focus was to overthrow the BJP. This is also the main agenda for the Congress party and their allies.
8. Modi's Return Dependent On a Number Game
Talking about the possibilities in the 2019 general elections, Rahul said that if BJP gets less than 220 seats, then either the Opposition parties will form the government, or BJP will, with its allies; and in both situations Narendra Modi won’t be Prime Minister again.
According to Rahul, the winning play will be UP and Bihar, which are already in favour with the Opposition.
Rahul also said the Modi is aware that even his allies aren’t happy with him.
9. Faced Every Question
In about 120 minutes of discussion in a room full of journalists with a variety of ideologies, Rahul did not try to avoid any single question at any time.
Whether it was about his personal views, his politics or his thoughts about the situation of the country – he gave a satisfactory answer to every question. He stood his ground even when he was pushed on to something. When someone spoke about BJP’s criticism of him, he said,
“They don’t just criticise me, the call me ‘Pappu’. They think I am stupid and don’t understand anything.”
Rahul’s unfazed response had the hall break into laughter. Instead of getting flustered by his criticism, Rahul's ability to laugh at himself is compliment-worthy.
10. Congress’s Own Style
The Congress party has now understood that without figuring out its own kind of methods, it cannot overcome the electoral mastery of PM Modi.
What Narendra Modi did with his effective rallies in 2014, Rahul is trying to counter that with a personal touch. He is able to share his philosophy and personal experience more easily with the people and there is no doubt that his self confidence has increased.
(This article has been translated by Mariam Shaheen)
(This story was originally published on HindiQuint.)
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