Congress leader Anil Shastri: India is ready for a Congress government

Ritu Jha–

“Indian National Congress will return to power as the people have realized that BJP made false promises during the elections,” said party leader Anil Shastri recently in San Ramon, California. “

He said, “Rising unemployment, inflation, cost of vegetables, and other daily necessities have highlighted the financial mismanagement of the BJP government in India. It is only a matter of time before people vote Congress back to power.”

The veteran Congress leader is the son of former Indian Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Congress leader Anil Shastri (left) at San Ramon, California

Shastri said the Congress Party has lagged behind in one aspect, i.e., relaying its achievements to people. “The amount of good work that was done during the tenure of Dr. Manmohan Singh, nobody talks about it. The Congress government had announced ₹2,000 loan waiver, and introduced schemes like NAREGA and the Minimum Support Price for the purchase of agricultural produce. That’s why we came back to power in 2009. But between 2009 to 2014 we slipped somewhere and we were not able to market these achievements to the people.”

He said the Congress is finally on the path to revival, and that “people can see the difference between the Congress rule and the BJP rule.”

He told Indica, “The common man faces high gas prices, inflation, tomato and potato price hikes. In India, things are very expensive and the common man — especially the poor, and the middle-class — have been hit hard.”

Appealing to Congress members and supporters to take to social media in support of party leader Rahul Gandhi and the party, he said: “Unfortunately, Congress was not able to tell the people about our achievements. For members and supporters of the Congress Party, the most important thing to consider is that now social media has become very strong. You must post online anything that you like about Rahul Gandhi, about the achievements of the Congress Party, highlighting the lies of the ruling party. That is how the electorate in India and the US are being influenced. I think there is a need for that because when an Indian living in America says something positive about the Congress Party, it will surely have an impact on the minds of the people. Rahul Gandhi perhaps is the only leader in India who has dared to challenge BJP’s Narendra Modi. They tried to arm-twist him, and he was sentenced to imprisonment but he did not back down.”

He said the BJP-led government is talking about globalization now, but “we initiated it way back in 1991, when Dr. Manmohan Singh introduced economic reforms. If India is today economically better than many other countries then I give 200 percent credit to Dr. Manmohan Singh, who was the Finance Minister of the Congress government then. It was his vision and it is because of him that India may have got its own place in the global economy,” he said.

He then added, “Actually, it was Gandhiji who thought of globalization. When he said to keep the windows of the house open so the fresh air comes in, that is what he meant. We are talking about women’s empowerment now. Gandhiji had advocated women’s empowerment when he was alive. Gandhiji succeeded as a political leader and achieved what he wanted for the country because he set a goal for the people and united them. His goal was a one-point program – to free India from British rule. That goal became a magnet that attracted people from all castes, regions, and religions.”

Shastri blamed the BJP government’s financial mismanagement for the spiking unemployment rates in India. “High unemployment is there due to total mismanagement. BJP made so many promises but they have not been able to fulfill any. They may say that the economy is buoyant, but if that is indeed the truth, then the seed for economic growth was sown back in 1991 when Congress was in power. And, once the seed for economic reforms was sown there was no going back, it had to go forward. India’s population is growing and today 300 million people have everything, every family has two cars,” he told indica while replying to a question on growing unemployment and Congress’ stand on the economic issues in India.

“When I first came to America in 1959, I noticed that everybody had a television and two cars. I used to say then that India is at least 100 years behind and it will take time to catch up with the US, but it has not taken that long. But the problem is that this growth is restricted only to those 300 million people. We are 1.4 billion of us.”

The event was moderated by Sandeep Vangala, general secretary of the Indian Overseas Congress in San Francisco.

While replying to a question from Vangala about the mysterious death of his father, the former Prime Minister of India, Shastri refuted the possibility of any international conspiracy but he instead pointed the needle of suspicion at a prominent shipping tycoon of that time. The late prime minister is reported to have died of a heart attack when went to Uzbekistan to sign a peace treaty with Pakistan. The moderator pointed out the recent confessions of a former CIA official in the US claiming that America had something to do with the assassination of Lal Bahadur Shastri.

Shastri said, “Khushwant Singh, a renowned author and columnist who is no more, wrote many years ago in The Illustrated Weekly of India that a shipping typhoon named Dharam Teja and some other bureaucrats were involved in a scam. This is Khushwant Singh’s version, not mine. He claimed that Teja and the bureaucrats were involved in a scam and the file concerning this matter had been sent to Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri on which he wrote that he would look into it after his return from Tashkent.”

“Singh said in his article that maybe ‘the little great man of India met his Waterloo at the hands of the shipping tycoon of India. Teja was known to be a notorious person. So, if at all there was foul play in my father’s death then it could have been the handiwork of some of the people who were involved in the scam. But I don’t see any international conspiracy in this,” Shastri said.

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