Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi said that anger was building up in India against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government over its failure in creating jobs.
People who had voted the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) out in 2014, were now going to get angry against the ruling BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, Gandhi said interacting with students at the Princeton University here on Tuesday.
He spoke on a range of issues and expressed his concern over the “centralisation” of political system in India.
The Congress leader said he would try to push for “transformation of the Lok Sabha and state legislatures to open up the law-making process”.
Answering a query about a new person having a greater say in the US and Indian politics, Gandhi said the reason for the rise of Modi and also to an extent of US President Donald Trump was the “question of jobs”.
“A large part of our populations simply do not have jobs and cannot see a future and so they are feeling the pain. And they have supported these type of leaders. The problem is that the record on jobs of these leaders — I do not know Trump so I won’t go there — but certainly our Prime Minister is not good enough,” Gandhi said.
The Congress leader said 30,000 youth were entering the job market everyday in India but only 450 jobs were being created.
He admitted that the previous UPA government led by his party also could not deliver adequately on the job front. He said it was a key reason for Modi leading the BJP to victory in the 2014 general elections.
“So those same people who got angry with us because we could not deliver on those 30,000 jobs are now going to get angry with Modi. The central issue is resolving that problem.”
He accused the Prime Minister of diverting from the issue of job creation and pointing finger elsewhere.
“The anger is building up in India right now. We can sense it. So to me, the challenge is how to solve the problem in a democratic environment.
“Frankly, the Congress party was unable to do it. But Modi is also unable to do it. It is a deeper problem, so we have to first accept it as a problem and then we have to unite at solving it. Right now nobody is willing to accept,” Gandhi said.
The Congress Vice President said at present the discussion revolves around the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) numbers whereas it should be about providing jobs to millions.
He said the “central problem” over the next decade would continue to be “job creation”.
“Job numbers are nowhere they should be. That is the crux India has to figure out.”
Gandhi said small companies should be able to turn into big companies for jobs to pick up but that was not happening.
The Congress leader also spoke against centralisation of power, saying too few people control too much in India’s present political system.
“The main problem is centralisation of political system. A Chief Minister decides what happens to a village road (but) it should be the local governments deciding what happens to a village road,” Gandhi said.
He also said that law making process is mainly carried out by bureaucrats and the Ministries and Parliament validates the law.
“What I will try to push for is transformation of the Lok Sabha, transformation of the Vidhan Sabha. I will like to open up the law making process,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi had last week spoken at the University of California, Berkeley, and said he was “absolutely ready” to be the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 general elections.
He had termed the demonetisation decision of the Modi government a “self-inflicted wound” and said “lynching and attacks on liberals were badly damaging India”.