news Sunday, May 03, 2015 - 05:30
Returning home after a 56-day “sabbatical” from politics, Rahul Gandhi has taken the Modi government head-on on the land bill, net neutrality and issues affecting home-buyers. By raising this troika of concerns, the Congress VP has almost indulged in a form of carpet-bombing, considering the fact that the socio-economic strata that these issues concern would factor in a large percentage of our population.   Accusing the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre of “working for industrialists,” Gandhi went after the current dispensation on charges of diluting the Land Acquisition Act by passing a bill to bring about the change. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of his arguments, if the government was now projected by the Opposition as “anti-poor”, it was clear that Gandhi was looking to tow the “pro-poor” line. Gandhi was critical of the Modi government, with barb after barb referring to the purported pro-industrial leanings of the Centre.   The furore surrounding Gandhi’s address to the Lok Sabha hadn’t died down yet when the 44-year-old rose again to speak on the topic of Network Neutrality. Touching a chord with yet another socio-economic class, if Gandhi had mentioned the “have-nots” in his last intervention, this time it was for those seemingly more privileged and the youth. The Net Neutrality debate has been criticised by certain sections of the populace for being taken up by a more “privileged” class. It does not seem to be those in our country who have received basic access to the Internet anyway, and the kind of population that is looking to target.   More recently, Gandhi met flat-buyers from the NCR region at the Congress headquarters on Saturday. Close to 200 home buyers with their organizations reportedly met the Gandhi scion. He championed their cause too, signaling the beginning of another debate in Parliament on the Real Estate bill. This section interestingly though would seem more difficult to crack, as the “Modi wave” in the 2014 elections rode reportedly on large sections of the rising Indian middle-class.   The arguments were put forth before Rajeev Gowda, a national spokesperson for the Indian National Congress (INC) who seems to concur, adding that “If there is a pattern, it exists because we’ve fought for those sections of society whom we have fought for before”. The Rajya Sabha MP also went on to mention that the current government is in “total disregard for the needs and concerns of vulnerable sections”.   Touching upon the issues concerned, Gowda says that the government had indeed “sold out” to the corporate lobbies when taking into account the rights of farmers. “We have nothing against industry”, he stresses, but we’re against the “exploitation of farmers and tribals”.   On the Net Neutrality debate, Gowda says that the Congress was for a “level playing field” while not allowing the space to be controlled by private entities. The UPA real estate bill has also been watered down, Gowda alleges, mentioning that the previous government had introduced a “solid bill”.   The hue and cry surrounding Gandhi’s return aside, the BJP have resorted to taking the usual jibes of him being on an “excursion” while visiting farmers in Punjab. The Finance Minister Arun Jaitley couldn’t resist taking a pot-shot either, calling his agenda a rent-a-cause one.   “Rent-a-cause?” Gowda asks. “Wake up Mr. Jaitley”.