Union Minister Smriti Irani hit out at Rahul Gandhi’s statements at University of California, Berkeley, calling him a "failed dynast” who chose to speak about his "failed political journeys in the United States of America”. Tearing into his statements on dynasty politics, Smriti Irani said that Rahul Gandhi is taking his frustration out in the USA as his party could not get a mandate in the 2014 elections. "He is forgetting that India still has voters,” she said.
"When Mr Gandhi said that dynasts rule in India, he forgot that right now, many are ruling without a political legacy. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, President Kovind and Vice-President themselves have no political legacy. This proves that in India, democracy works on merit,” says Smriti Irani.
Earlier in the day, Rahul Gandhi had addressed a students’ gathering at University of California, Berkeley, and spoke about dynasty politics and online trolling. "Most of the country runs like this, so don’t go after me, Akhilesh Yadav is a dynast, Mr Stalin is a dynast, Mr Dhumal’s son is a dynast,” Rahul Gandhi said.
"It shows the failed strategy of Rahul. That he's going to an international stage to speak about his failed political journey in a country where people didn't accept him," said Irani, who underscored that she was making these comments not as a member of the government, but as a BJP representative.
Irani called Rahul's comments on dynasty an "anomaly" even as she harshly condemned them.
"That fact that he says dynasty is a fulcrum of India is an anomaly. Not surprising that a dynast has no good words to speak about cooperative federalism which is evident in today's India," said Irani.
Speaking about Rahul's admission that arrogance was creeping in Congress in 2012, Irani said, "It must be the first incident in Indian politics where the Congress Vice President made a remark on Congress President at international level. Probably, he forgot that the Congress command was in the hands of her mother Sonia Gandhi."
"Making remark that in Sonia Gandhi's leadership congress became arrogance and hence lost the election is a big political confession," Irani added.
She also challenged Gandhi to a debate on the economy after he criticised the Union government’s decision on demonetisation and the "altered” structures of the Mahatma Gandhi Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and the Good and Services Tax (GST) regime. "Forget about very senior people in the party or government, I challenge him to debate it with me or with Anil Baluni (BJP national media in charge),” she said.
She found it particularly galling that Rahul would choose to "belittle the PM" when travelling abroad.
"The fact that Rahul Gandhi chose to belittle the PM is not surprising, it is expected. But after failing to connect with the people of India, he chooses a platform of convenience to berate his political opponents," said Irani.
Rahul Gandhi also criticised Narendra Modi's economic policies, accusing him of causing 'tremendous damage' to India's economy with 'reckless and dangerous' decisions like demonetisation and 'hastily-applied' GST.
Apparently referring to rights activist and journalist Gauri Lankesh's killing, he said "The politics of polarisation has raised its ugly head in India," he said, adding that liberal journalists are being shot.
"People being lynched because they are Dalit. Muslims were killed on suspicion of eating beef. This is new in India and damages India very badly, he said"
Gandhi also said the politics of hate divided and polarised India and was making millions of people feel that they have no future in their own country.