'Do remember India shining campaign': Rahul Gandhi recalls BJP's 2004 defeat

INDIA bloc fighting ideological election, decision on prime ministerial candidate after polls, says Rahul Gandhi

Rahul Gandhi hinted at the BJP's vulnerability despite claims of dominance (photo: Vipin/ National Herald)
Rahul Gandhi hinted at the BJP's vulnerability despite claims of dominance (photo: Vipin/ National Herald)

NH Political Bureau

Following the release of the party manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls on Friday, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi took a dig at the ruling BJP at the Centre, recalling the India Shining campaign launched by the Atal Bihari Vajpayee government in 2004.

The 'India Shining' slogan, once touted as a hallmark of the Vajpayee government, failed to strike a chord with the electorate, resulting in Vajpayee's loss in the polls that year. "Remember PM Vajpayee's India Shining campaign and who won that election," Gandhi said.

As the Congress party unveiled its manifesto, Gandhi underscored the significance of the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections, emphasising a closer contest than seems apparent. His remarks came as a subtle jab at the BJP, prompting reflection on past electoral missteps.

Responding to queries about potential electoral outcomes, Gandhi refrained from making definitive predictions but expressed confidence in the Congress' prospects. Drawing parallels to the scepticism surrounding Vajpayee's candidacy, Gandhi hinted at the possibility of an unexpected turn of events in the upcoming polls.

"Narendra Modi has created a financial monopoly by capturing all the institutions like ED and CBI. But now, all the information about electoral bonds has come out. From whom the money was collected, to whom the contract has been awarded, how much money was paid after the contract... the entire blueprint has come out, which is why Narendra Modi is scared... They say NDA will cross 400 seats, but they know that even 180 will be difficult," Gandhi said.

In a broader context, Gandhi framed the election as a battle to safeguard democratic principles and constitutional values, reiterating the Congress' commitment to inclusive governance, prioritising the interests of the majority and advocating for fair competition in the business landscape.

"This election is to save democracy and the Constitution. On one side Narendra Modi ji and NDA are attacking democracy and constitution. On the other hand, the INDIA alliance is protecting democracy and the Constitution. This election is between these two powers," said Rahul Gandhi.

Gandhi's reference to the BJP's previous electoral setback served as a stark reminder of the inherent unpredictability of Indian politics, emphasising the need for humility and vigilance in the face of electoral contests.

In its manifesto, the Congress party addressed the Anti-Defection law, also known as the Tenth Schedule. This law pertains to situations of defection within Parliament or state legislatures by members of political parties, independent members, and nominated members. It outlines the conditions under which a member can be disqualified for defection.

Head of the manifesto committee, former Union Minister, P Chidambaram said that the lawmakers will lose their membership when defection occurs.

The Congress party has adopted a cautious approach regarding the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), which has been wielded by the ruling party to target opposition leaders. While there was prior speculation that the Congress manifesto would include a pledge to repeal the law, a senior party leader indicated a more measured stance.

"We will review it, and then decide whether to scrap it," stated the senior Congress leader. The party stopped short of making a firm commitment to repeal the law, opting instead for a more deliberative approach.

The decision marks a departure from earlier indications suggesting a definitive promise to abolish the PMLA. The Congress party's nuanced position reflects a balanced consideration of the complexities surrounding the legislation and its potential implications.

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