Cracks in India’s democratic structure would cause problems for the entire world, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said in London on Friday, according to PTI.
“Democracy in India is a global public good,” Gandhi said. “We’re the only people who have managed democracy at our unparalleled scale. If that cracks, it is going to cause a problem for the planet.”
He made the remarks during an “Ideas for India” conference organised by think tank Bridge India. Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Tejashwi Yadav and Trinamool Congress’ Mahua Moitra were also present at the event.
The Congress leader also accused the Bharatiya Janata Party of “spreading kerosene” all over the country, adding that one spark led to trouble, ANI reported.
“I think we need to act responsibly as the Opposition... We need to cool this temperature down because if it doesn’t cool down, things can go wrong,” he said.
Gandhi said that while the BJP stifles voices, the Congress listens to citizens.
“They are two things, they are two different designs,” the Congress leader said. “A cadre is told that you will say this and nothing else. It’s designed to push a particular set of ideas down people’s throats, whether it is the communist idea or in the RSS [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh] system. We [the Congress] are not designed like that.”
Gandhi also said that India must not become a country that is not allowed to speak, the Hindustan Times reported.
“The prime minister must have an attitude that ‘I want to listen’... and from there everything flows down,” he said. “But our prime minister [Narendra Modi] doesn’t listen. You can’t have a country that’s not allowed to speak.”
Gandhi said that the Congress believes that India is a “negotiation between its people”, while the BJP and RSS consider it to be a “sone ki chidiya” (golden sparrow) whose benefits should only be distributed to a few.
He also said that European bureaucrats told him that the Indian Foreign Service has completely changed. Gandhi claimed that the European bureaucrats told him that these officers “don’t listen to anything, and are arrogant”.
Commenting on Gandhi’s remarks, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that Indian Foreign Service has indeed changed, and that it now defends national interest.
“Yes, they follow the orders of the government,” Jaishankar said. “Yes, they counter the arguments of others. No, it’s not called arrogance. It is called confidence.”
BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia criticised the Congress leader’s comments about the saffron party “spreading kerosene” in the country, and alleged that the Gandhi family was tarnishing the image of the country, according to ANI.
Bhatia said that during the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, it was the “Congress leaders who poured that kerosene”.