The Financial Times announces “Rahul Gandhi steps into the spotlight”
Many onlookers will be wondering, like Devinder Sharma, if the sympathy that Rahul Gandhi shows for the poor and marginalised is ‘only for winning elections’.
Reassuringly, Sharma concludes:
“I am not sure what he has in his mind or why is he doing it but what is quite visible is that here is someone who is making the effort to not only reach out to the children of the lesser gods but also trying to understand them,” and points out:
“Knowing his political future, the safe pathway that he has in front of him, it wasn’t necessary for him to venture out into the countryside.”
A year ago in Orissa, Gandhi highlighted the real divide between the rich India and the poor India:
“There are two Indias — Ameeron ka Hindustan (India of the rich) whose voices reach everywhere, and the Garibon ka Hindustan (India of the poor) whose voices are seldom heard…. Two years ago, you had come to me saying the Niyamgiri hill is your god. I told you I would be your soldier in Delhi. I am happy that I have helped you in whatever way I could. What is important is that your voice was heard without violence.”
A ‘venture into the countryside’:
A four-day walking tour to the farmers’ rally in Aligarh, about 140km from New Delhi, was made in sweltering heat through western Uttar Pradesh, sleeping and eating at the homes of farmers and labourers along the way.
He rounded on the government’s land acquisition policies, describing the government of Uttar Pradesh as “touts”, bartering the land of the farmers to real estate developers.
And in the capital
Rahul Gandhi led a team of weavers who have been suffering because of the increase in prices of cotton yarn and silk yarn, to meet Manmohan Singh. A debt-waiver was secured which will benefit weavers working with 15,000 handloom cooperative societies.
Taking up the weavers’ cause
An almost world-wide problem – the ‘real divide’
Sharma quotes Gandhi’s words reported in the Indian Express (Aug 27, 2010):
Kanker (Chattisgarh), July 2010: There are two parts of India. One part is the part you see in urban areas, growing very fast. There is another forgotten part of India, and tribals, Adivasis and Dalits are part of it.
Will Gandhi become part of problem, like so many politicians in so many countries or will he be part of the solution?
His message – loud and clear, development cannot be at the cost of people:
“In my religion, all are equal — whether it is rich or poor, Dalits or Adivasis. Wherever as individual’s voice is being stifled, that is against my religion.”
We hope for the best.