Rahul Gandhi, sources close to him say, never made secret his appreciation of the Aam Aadmi Party’s style of connecting to people across classes.
After the results of the 2013 Delhi assembly elections were out he remarked that the Congress should learn a few things from the AAP. His party had just been reduced to a mere eight seats in the 70-member house after being in power for 15 years and his remark at that point attracted ridicule. The next year saw his party tumbling to its worst ever performance in a general election, winning only 44 MPs. It was obvious that the party had lost its base among all sections.
Now in a hurry to arrest the alarming slide, he is busy following the AAP model of reaching out to people. The impact is visible.
Just when political pundits were busy extolling his pro-poor agenda, Rahul took everyone by surprise this Saturday when he interacted with almost 200 homebuyers of the National Capital Region (NCR) who are still waiting for their homes from various builders.
The possession of these homes is long overdue but the families can do little against the powerful builders. Rahul gave a patient hearing to their woes.
“The main dilution is that earlier there was clear transparency. One was actually getting the carpet area that one was signing for. They have changed it from pro-buyer, and made it pro-builder,” he said, attacking the NDA government on the amendments made to the Real Estate Bill.
The range in Rahul’s armoury to target Narendra Modi’s election promises seems to be ample and there is a method to his new found aggression. “The rise of AAP has shown that it is not all about doing, b
ut doing and finishing as well,” says a Congress leader, adding “Rahul Ji has taken a leaf out of their book and turned it around for our party and himself.”
After his initial focus on the poor and the tribals, sources in the party say that Rahul is keen to win back the middle classes. He is keen to tap in on the growing disenchantment amongst the working class against unfulfilled promises of the prime minister.
What has been troubling the Gandhi scion is also the fact that Congress failed to win any seat in Delhi assembly election earlier this year. The party losing its traditional vote of poor and middle class since AAP emerged on the political scene in 2013.
Sources say Rahul wants to drive home the point that Delhi’s development has happened under Congress and the party needs to remind Delhiites about the same at regular intervals. The party needs to present itself as a viable political option not just against the BJP, but against the AAP as well as Delhi remains high on his list of states to win for the party.
Ever since his return from a long break, the Congress vice president has not done a thing wrong in his public posturing, be it attending the farmers’ rally to scathing attack on NDA in Parliament to visiting villagers in rural India. So far all this was on expected lines, something that he had done in the past though the consistency was missing. But what has set Rahul apart in his new avatar is him raising issues like Net Neutrality in Parliament and meeting home buyers of NCR.
“Our leader has clear views on issues close to the people and our country. I don’t know why you think that he is only pro-poor, he is thinking about all sections of the society.” says Jitin Prasada, former Union minister.
When Rahul walked into the Congress headquarters on Saturday through the door connecting Congress president’s residence, he was not flanked by the likes of Ahmed Patel, Motilal Vora and Janardan Dwivedi. Giving in company were Delhi Congress Chief Ajay Maken and the party’s media department chief Randeep Surjewala. The message was for all to see: the change of guard has happened and the would-be chief is not secretive about his likes and dislikes anymore.