13 March 2019
Chennai: Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said he does not object to his brother-in-law Robert Vadra facing a probe over his business dealings but at the same time, Prime Minister Narendra Modi should also be investigated over the Rafale deal.
Interacting with the students of Stella Maris College for Women here, Gandhi faced a googly from a student who asked why he didn't mention Robert Vadra along with the names of Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and others accused of fraud.
"What about him (Vadra)? The government has every right -- and it should -- to investigate every single person. The law must not be applied selectively. I am the first person to say 'investigate Vadra'. But investigate the Prime Minister, too" he said.
Gandhi said the Prime Minister himself is named in government documents which say that he is directly responsible for holding parallel negotiations with France's Dassault Aviation in the Rafale fighter jet deal.
To an earlier question, the Congress chief criticized the Modi government for facilitating businessmen such as Nirav Modi, Vijay Mallya and others to leave the country after defrauding the banks.
"The money deposited in the banks by people during demonetization was given to these businessmen," he alleged.
Gandhi also asked the students how many times they had seen Modi taking any question.
The Congress chief, clad in a jeans and T-shirt, faced a range of questions from the students about the Congress-led UPA's plans for economic growth, Jammu and Kashmir, the charges against his brother-in-law, and the reason for hugging Modi in Parliament.
On bringing peace back in Jammu and Kashmir, he said the first step was to build a bridge to the people there as was done between 2004 and 2014 by the UPA government. As a result, terror attacks came down drastically and power was given to the people by holding elections, he said.
Noting Pakistan will continue to carry out terror attacks, he said: "But we have to engage with the people of Jammu and Kashmir."
To a question on the status of women in the country, he said the situation was better in south India than in the north but "there is still a lot needed to be done in Tamil Nadu".
He said the UPA will reserve 33 per cent government jobs for women and pass the Women's Reservation Bill giving 33 per cent of seats in the Lok Sabha if it wins the coming election.
It would also simplify the procedures in the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and have a low single tax rate.
Gandhi stressed that he had no hatred towards Modi.
"Love is the foundation of every religion whether it is Hinduism, Islam or Christianity. I was watching the Prime Minister's speech in Parliament where he was criticizing my father (former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi), grandmother (late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi), great-grandfather (Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru) and the Congress.
"Inside me, I was feeling affection for him. He was so angry that he was not able to see the beauty of the world."
Gandhi said he felt that Modi didn't have the love he wanted. "I wanted to show affection and hugged him."
He said the UPA's defeat in 2014 taught him several lessons.
"I learn from Modi. I don't hate him. Do you hate the person who teaches you?" Gandhi asked to students and got a big "No" as the answer.
"The biggest teacher are the people who attack you. The more you are attacked, the more you give love and affection back."
According to him, the current Central government was North India-centric and he believed that all parts of India should have an equal say.
Gandhi said the world was moving from being US-centric to US-China-Russia centric and India should not lean right or left but should stand straight.
He said that the biggest hindrance for economic growth was crony capitalism and corruption.
On the education system, he said there should be space for the government and everything cannot be left in the hands of the private sector.
There were lighter moments during the interaction with Gandhi, who maintained that he was still a young politician, asking the students to address him as Rahul and not as Sir -- which was applauded by the students.