Indian Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is visiting the United States in June to highlight the values and vision of “real democracy”, according to Sam Pitroda, chairperson of the Indian Overseas Congress. Gandhi’s visit will include addresses to public meetings and university students in San Francisco, Washington DC and New York, where he will also meet members of Congress and think tanks and Wall Street executives.
Pitroda explained Gandhi’s agenda saying, “we are not here to complain. We are here to share what is going on in India.” Pitroda continued that the purpose of Gandhi’s America visit is to begin a new conversation with individuals, institutions, media and the Indian diaspora to promote “freedom, inclusion, sustainability, justice, peace and opportunities world over.”
Gandhi is scheduled to visit San Francisco, Washington DC and New York, where he is planning to address two public meetings with Indian Americans, meet lawmakers at Capitol Hill and members of think tanks, interact with university students and meet Wall Street executives, said Indian Overseas Congress, the organizers of the events, on Sunday.
Sharing the agenda and purpose of Gandhis visit to the United States, Pitroda said, “We are not here to complain. We are here to share what is going on in India. Indian democracy is the biggest democracy in the world and we owe it to the people to tell them about the real situation on the ground.” “We are not asking for everybody to come and help us. We can deal with the problems. We want to share with you what is needed,” he told a group of Congress supporters in Chicago.
George Abraham, vice-chairman of the Indian Overseas Congress-USA said, “I hope that Rahul Gandhi’s visit will energise the diaspora into a renewed appreciation of democracy and freedom the Indian diaspora aspires to have.” Gandhi’s itinerary includes meetings with think tanks and universities. The programme is packed with a thousand people due in attendance in San Francisco and a private dinner in Washington, DC.
“It has been worked out. And he (Gandhi) does a great job when he gets a chance to interact with people. He doesnt like to broadcast like a Mann ki Baat. He likes to interact and thats what Indian democracy is all about — to listen to people. So, we hope that we get a good reception on the Capitol Hill,” Pitroda said. In San Francisco, Gandhi is likely to meet a group of artists, while a private dinner has been planned by eminent Indian-American Frank Islam at his mansion in the Potomac suburb of Washington DC.
Gandhi has been criticized for alleging that the structures of Indian democracy are under attack and claiming there is a “full-scale assault” on the country’s institutions. These remarks made while on a March visit to the UK saw the BJP accuse him of maligning India on foreign soil, seeking foreign intervention, and dividing India, among other claims. The Congress, in reply, cited instances of Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising India’s internal politics abroad.
The Congress party is the oldest party in India, founded in 1885. It dominated Indian politics for the years following the country’s independence in 1947, until India opened its economy in the 1990s, leading to the emergence of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The BJP has since emerged as the dominant party in Indian politics, and Gandhi’s Congress has struggled to regain political ground against the BJP and its allies.
The Indian Election Commission is also currently investigating allegations of electoral malpractices in the lead up to the general election in May which saw the BJP secure a second term in government.