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Congress' mega rally organised to assure US voters?
More than appealing the Indian voters, the Delhi rally of Congress Party looked like an attempt to assure the US voters that UPA government will protect their interests, at a time when they are going through a turbulent economic phase.

THE MASSIVE rally organised by the Congress party in Delhi on Sunday was felt by everyone as an attempt to induct formally the Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi as a successor to lead the party and also the government. Repeated news stories appeared in the media that he would be formally inducted as No 2 in the party by declaring him as the Working President or Secretary General.

It was also felt that the rally was aimed at launching the party’s poll campaign for 2014, which would be fought making Rahul Gandhi as party’s prime ministerial candidate. However, in practice, no such attempt was seen in the rally that Rahul Gandhi tried to assert as `hope for the future’ of the party. By attempting to project himself as `agent of change’, he tried to convince the people that he can only lead the country in future.

However, most of the focus at the rally was cornered in assuring that they would go ahead with reforms agenda. Much of the focus was laid on the FDI in multi-brand retail and all the speakers tried to convey that it will serve the cause of the poor, rural and youth of the country.

The overwhelming focus of the rally in asserting its reforms agenda is significant as this was held two days ahead of United States' Presidential poll. As the US economy is caught in deep crisis and it badly needed India’s reforms initiatives to protect its own interests, some observers felt that the rally was intended to assure the US voters more than appealing the Indian voters ahead of 2014 polls.

Normally, in India in such political rallies the practice was to announce some welfare and some populist schemes like free-power. However, no such attempt was made. Main speakers focused in asserting themselves for their determination to continue economic reforms. No party dares to concentrate on complex economic issues, which were dubbed as `anti-people` in such rallies.

The tone and spirit of main speakers including Sonia Gandhi, Manmohan Singh and Rahul Gandhi reflects their desire to assure the US companies they would come to their rescue. Many Congress leaders expected some announcements like declaring Rahul Gandhi as working president of the party and also hiking ceiling on subsidy gas cylinders’ at this rally. But no such attempt was made.

Speaking ahead of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi slammed as “mindless and thoughtless” the opposition’s claim that allowing global retailers to set up shop in India would put mom-and pop stores out of business, and accused the opposition of “spreading falsehoods” on reforms and corruption.

Both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi delivered a ringing endorsement of the government’s economic policies on Sunday, providing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and finance minister P Chidambaram the political backing to pursue reforms energetically. In his speech, Rahul Gandhi hit out at BJP and Left for criticising FDI in multi-brand retail, saying the claim that the initiative would drive small stores out of business was false. “The truth is that food processing will help farmers,” he said.

Rahul Gandhi lashed out at the opposition for criticising the FDI proposal in a “mindless and thoughtless” manner. His support for the Prime Minister’s argument that reforms generate revenues for welfare programmes will be music to Singh’s ears as he navigates the last leg of a troubled second term.

With Sonia Gandhi also chipping in by observing that fresh investment, including FDI, was essential, the rally has helped to assure the US voters that the ruling Congress party in India has fully shed its squeamishness over unabashedly pursuing the growth mantra.

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