Govt operating on the belief that it doesn’t need to listen to anybody: Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi said a lot of people are getting discontented because of the way the BJP is behaving. “It is very happening very quickly. So the opportunity for us is very huge. We have to redefine ourselves though,” he said, without elaborating how he plans to redefine the Congress.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said that the BJP-led Centre has “shut down the feedback loop” which was there to gauge and sense the response and reaction of the people on various issues of governance, and alleged that the government is operating on the belief that it doesn’t need to listen to anybody since it controls the media space and the narrative.

Gandhi made the remarks during an interaction with former American diplomat Nicholas Burns, who is now with the Harvard Kennedy School.

Gandhi said a lot of people are getting discontented because of the way the BJP is behaving. “It is very happening very quickly. So the opportunity for us is very huge. We have to redefine ourselves though,” he said, without elaborating how he plans to redefine the Congress.

The Wayanad MP was scathing on the government’s strategy to deal with China as also its style of governance. He also alleged that the RSS has captured the institutional structures in India.

He said the Congress, when it was in power, would get “constant feedback” on “a pressure coming at us” – be it from farmers, labourers or the big business. “There was a feedback loop…What amazed me was how quick, how effective and how powerful it was. It was right in our face. We almost couldn’t avoid it. And that feedback loop is now shut.”

“The model that the (present) government uses and some of the ideas that they project has shut down that feedback loop. You see it when Gauri Lankesh gets assassinated… the activist… you see it when people are beaten up, you see it when people are attacked… you are shutting down the feedback loop.”

Referring to the farmers’ protests, he said the farmers have no other option except to come on to the streets because the government had shut down the “feedback loop.”

“The ability to put your message so forcefully when you control the media automatically stops you from listening…. And it puts you in a mindset… ‘I control the media space, I control the narrative …so I don’t really need to listen to anybody’ and that is how you operate,” he said.

“That is the case with GST…that was the case with demonetisation, that was the case with the lockdown and that is the case with the farmer laws. It is a style of governance,” he said. He said it was the same when the government imposed a lockdown without a “warning”.

“You shut down the whole country down… One of the largest countries in the world, one of the most complex countries in the world… had the hardest lockdown imposed immediately… Now it has come down that even the cabinet was not asked… Even the other institutions were not asked… So it is a style of governance… It comes from a centralisation of power and a belief that centralised power understands everything,” he said.

Arguing that the BJP and the RSS have managed to “dominate” India’s “institutional structures”, Gandhi said that there is a “wholesale capture” of the institutional framework of India and “absolute” financial and media dominance by the BJP. He also referred to the Assam incident, where a BJP candidate’s vehicle was found transporting a polled EVM in Assam’s Karimganj district and claimed that “there was nothing going on in the national media.”

“It is not just the Congress. The BSP is not winning an election, the Samajwadi (Party) is not winning an election, the NCP is not winning an election… To fight elections I need institutional structures, I need a judicial system that protects me, I need a media that is reasonably free, I need financial parity, I need a whole set of structures that actually allow me to operate as a political party…I don’t have them… what is the answer? The answer is when you behave the way the BJP is behaving…

“A lot of people get discontented very fast…and that is what is happening. So the answer then is to bring these people together….But we are no longer in the same paradigm we were before 2014,” he said.

Gandhi argued that there is now only one institution in India now and that is the RSS. “That institution has penetrated all other institutions. They have put their…their people are in the media, their people are in the judiciary, their people are in the Election Commission, their people are in the bureaucracy…And so the only way out there is mass action. There is no other way.

“You just go to the people…We are heading into that space. And that is what you will see with the farmers’ protests. And you will start to see more and more that type of activity,” he said.

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