Congress: One step forward, two steps backward

Rahul Gandhi (left), heir apparent Indian National Congress and Ashok Gehlot (right), chief minister Rajasthan.
Rahul Gandhi (left), heir apparent Indian National Congress and Ashok Gehlot (right), chief minister Rajasthan.

Contradictory signals from Congress confuses many

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi recently earned some breaking headlines in television channels by launching a vociferous attack on some top industrialists in Parliament. His attack surprised India’s political cognoscenti, ostensibly because some of the big buck investments in Congress-ruled states have only happened because these very companies had pledged huge investments.

So let’s analyse Gandhi’s strange discomfort with these companies.

While Rahul Gandhi was catigating the BJP for increased wealth of two industrialists in Parliament, the Congress-ruled Rajasthan government of Ashok Gehlot was busy rolling out the red carpet to attract investments from the same wealth creators in the northwestern desert state.

Let’s take a look at this note issued on February 8, 2022 by the Rajasthan government with a vocal headline saying that the state government is giving full support to the investors. The note listed MoUs with five state governments and three private enterprises to the tune of 3.05 lakh crore rupees. The largest among them was none other than Reliance Industries whom Rahul was criticizing recklessly despite the senior Ambani’s plans to invest one lakh crore rupees in Rajasthan’s solar power sector.

This is not all. Gandhi had also not spared Adani Group to suit own political positioning while the first-generation, Ahmedabad-based conglomerate is making huge investments that will, in turn, create massive employment and infrastructure in Rajasthan. And this will happen with the support of the state Congress government.

Political observers say the divide in the strategy of Congress is evident from the position taken by Gandhi and Gehlot. The latter issued a three page media statement to tell the state that his government is committed to ensure energy security for the nation. Gehlot assured investors all the possible support of the government. As if the chief minister’s assurance was inadequate, the unusual media statement quoted three ministers and two bureaucrats in addition to seven testimonials of the investors to convince people about what Gehlot wanted to say.

In mid-December, 2021, Gehlot had tweeted, “In the run up to the Invest Rajasthan event scheduled on 24th& 25th January 2022, met Sh Anil Aggarwal Ji, Sh Gautam Adani ji and Sh LN Mittal Ji. All have shown keen interest in making investments in various sectors including renewable energy.” The investors’ meeting could not be held in January. Subsequently, Reliance favoured Rajasthan instead of Gujarat to invest Rs 1 lakh crore in renewable energy sector and signed an MoU with Rajasthan recently. 

Meanwhile, Rahul Gandhi accused PM Narendra Modi for favouring two businessmen with the Hum Do Hamare Do slogan that was aimed at Mukesh Ambani of Reliance Industries and Gautam Adani of the Adani Group. His remarks would have been reasonable if BJP ruled states were giving lucrative offers to these industrialists to attract investments at the cost of the interests of Rajasthan.

But that has not been the case. The Modi government has been agnostic to which state gets the investments and job opportunities. Timing of Gandhi’s comments could not have been worse.

Politicians, especially in opposition have nothing to lose and neither they are answerable to anyone. They can afford to hit and run away. Ironically, entrepreneurs do not enjoy such luxury. Stakeholders management is the key to their success and it cannot happen without the goodwill but it is constantly under the political attacks. Gandhi’s incoherent claims and comments aimed at discrediting BJP are adversely affecting everyone except himself.

So what is happening? Congress CMs are cutting sorry figures before the potential investors who can generate jobs and huge tax revenues. Entrepreneurs lose confidence in a state government that cannot protect even their goodwill, forget the business interests. Bengal is one such example.

And the ultimate loser is the common man who is deprived of growth opportunities.

Ideally, Rahul Gandhi and his CMs need to come to a common ground to decide if the Congress party stands for growth or denying growth opportunities to the people who voted for them. It will ensure certainty at least for the future of the investments, if not for the prospects of the Congress party that is still struggling to find its feet on the ground.

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