In an exclusive interview with TheRawStraw, Indian National Congress National Spokesperson, Priyanka Chaturvedi criticised the NDA Govt for the ‘inexperienced manner’ in which they are running the country. She touched upon many subjects from the cow politics to troll culture that are taking hold of our political discourse. She also questioned the intent of the people who repeatedly attack the Congress party leadership. Read on:
1. When you look at the contemporary political discourse, what possibilities do you see for the Congress party in the near future?
It is a fact that over the years the political discourse has fallen, space for dissent and debate has narrowed dangerously. Where any voice of dissent is ridiculed and discredited it becomes imperative that the society vehemently stands up in protest against the shrinking of space. This was not the Idea of India our forefathers fought for. The Indian National Congress is committed to following the ideals of those who fought to attain this freedom. We are very confident, that people across the country are equally committed to the idea of a pluralistic society which respects all citizens and treats all countrymen as one. We will continue raising our voices against the wrongs perpetrated by those in power and keep fighting for the cause of the people. As the opposition, we will hold the government accountable to its electorate.
2. Indian National Congress has not spent much time in the role of opposition historically. Do you think Congress is proving to be an inexperienced opposition and missing the opportunities to criticise the NDA govt?
The same argument can then apply to those in power and running the country in an inexperienced manner, leading to disastrous consequences for the nation in time to come. When the BJP government tried to subvert the democratic norms by changing the land bill through ordinance we stood with the farmers of the country who were protesting the arbitrary step of disempowering them, it forced the government to step back from their suit-boot agenda.
In the GST, that the government introduced initially had several changes from the GST we had envisaged for the nation. Their GST version would end up benefitting a section of people only, largely excluding the benefits to the aam aadmi, which made us vehemently oppose the move, forcing the government to relook at their bill. Whether it is about being the voice of the marginalised or opposing the deliberate attempt to create unrest we have held them to account and will continue to do so. We will hold the government accountable for its inability to control terror, black money and corruption.
3. You have been incessantly targeted on Twitter by trolls. Some even resorting to the levels of ‘Rape threats’. But apart from the organised trolling by some IT cells, there is an ever expanding section of the bourgeois that openly acts like a troll. What do you think is the reason behind such mindset?
It is a problem across the spectrum globally. Hate thrives more than logical reasoning. The power of the open medium and ability to be heard, and the belief that it would impact the person they are targeting is what drives these sections. Seeking attention by being vulgar, offensive and issuing threats at most times in the garb of anonymity has made this a bigger menace. Unfortunately, it has gained legitimacy because of some political groups encouraging the harassment of their political opponents. The attempt to thwart voices, silence the opposition, dominate the narrative through whatever means available has become the norm. This too shall pass!
4. Recently in an interview to a magazine the historian, Ramchandra Guha voiced his concern regarding the leadership of the Congress party. Do you think the party require a change of plan or leadership?
While we respect any views coming from all sections however we definitely do not agree with what they have to say about the party and its organisational appointments. This opinion, repeatedly expressed by Mr Guha, at times even resorting to personal attack on our leadership is not the opinion of lakhs of our volunteers and members in the organisation. Our appointments and choices are not based on someone’s opinion but on the belief and faith of who we believe is the best person to fight the onslaught on our Constitution and our democracy. Any changes that happen in the party and its strategy will be made keeping in mind what the organisation needs, the best way to take our agenda forward, to reconnect with people. That can only come from our members and volunteers on the ground and not on the basis of an individual who disagrees.
5. What do you think of the recent upsurge of the ‘cow’ politics? Do you think it has the potential to derail the secular thread of our country? What is the Congress Party’s official stand on the subject?
Using cow to unleash an agenda of hate and divisive politics across the nation is doing a gross disservice to a gentle animal one is seemingly working to protect. Cow is just an excuse that has been used by the party in power to consolidate their hateful agenda, making Indians fight amongst themselves. They have made it about us vs them which will lead to terrible consequences in times to come. For instance, if the idea was to protect cows why would many BJP run states see deaths of thousands of cows in government shelters? Why is it that those who resort to violence, instead of being condemned by the government and taken action against, see nothing happening to them and their violent mobs? Statistics by Indiaspend will show you how cow vigilantism has increased since 2014 and the number of those killed in lynching has substantially increased. This exposes the hypocrisy of the government on its stance on cow protection.