"Love you too": New York audience to Rahul Gandhi

"Do you ever hear anyone say 'I love you' at BJP rallies?" joked Rahul Gandhi


NH Political Bureau

When Rahul Gandhi's speech at New York's Jacob K. Javits Convention Center came to a close, he ended it with an "I love all of you". The 2,000-odd audience shouted back "We love you too".

"Do you ever hear anyone say 'I love you' at BJP rallies?" joked Rahul Gandhi.

“There is an attack on the democratic structure, on our institutions, judiciary, media, and it is your responsibility and our responsibility to defend the idea of India. Modern India cannot exist without our Constitution and democracy,” he said earlier, the leit-motif of his speeches on his US tour.

“To be nasty to people, to be arrogant, to be violent, these are not Indian values. If they were Indian values, why would we be celebrating Mahatma Gandhi, Guru Nanak, Ambedkar, Basavanna and Narayana Guru?… So this is a new fashion that to express Indianness, you have to be hateful, abusive and beat people,” he said. 

"The humility and lack of arrogance of Indians who migrated to the US and their acceptance of the culture and diversity of their host country were the reasons for their success. That's what made them ambassadors of India," he added.

In India, the basic conflict currently raging could be summarised as being "between [Mahatma] Gandhi and Godse", he said.

Gandhi then turned to 'Sam' Pitroda, the chief organiser of his US trip, and said he'd like to visit cities like Chicago, Dallas and Atlanta too.

"I want to have a relationship with you," he told the audience, "where you can tell me what your concerns are, what I should be doing. I'm not interested in doing mann ki baat," he said. The Indian prime minister Narendra Modi of course has a radio show of that name, meaning '[my] inner thoughts'.

Jyoti Punwani, writing for rediff.com says, 'Those gathered at the Javits Center on Sunday afternoon were a microcosm of India, belying the allegation by BJP supporters about the event being Muslim-driven. In fact, the largest religious minority present there appeared to be Sikhs.' This is interesting, given that his famous grandmother Indira Gandhi's assassination by two of her own bodyguards, incidentally followers of the same faith (there was no religious angle to their choice) had caused a descent into anti-Sikh riots in the India of the 1984.

'What was common across these groups was the belief that Rahul would be the next prime minister, that he belonged to a family that had "shed their blood for India" and that he had the compassion needed to bring communities together and restore India's secular character,' Punwani adds.

Many in the gathering said they were former BJP supporters and fans of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who were now disillusioned by his "anti-farmer policies". Other former BJP supporters mentioned issues such as the growing privatisation of PSUs, poverty, unemployment and "the growing saffronisation of politics in India" as reasons behind their change of heart.

Follow us on: Facebook, Twitter, Google News, Instagram 

Join our official telegram channel (@nationalherald) and stay updated with the latest headlines