Jan 20, 2013 / 7:03 pm
Rahul Gandhi, the heir to India's Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, said he would work to transform the country by decentralizing power after he was elevated to the governing Congress party's No. 2 post.
His career embodies Congress' reliance on the Gandhi family name, but the man widely expected to be the party's candidate for prime minister in next year's elections condemned elitism as "the tragedy of India" and vowed to work to expand access to power for ordinary people.
"For me, the Congress party is my life. The people of India are my life and I will fight for them," Gandhi, a 42-year-old lawmaker, said in his acceptance speech Sunday in the western Indian city of Jaipur, a day after he was appointed the party vice-president, a position behind his mother Sonia Gandhi, who is the Congress party president.
Reflecting on his eight years while working for the party organization, Rahul Gandhi said India's governmental system was struck in the past and the answer lay in completely transforming it.
"A handful of people control the entire political space" he said to cheering party workers.
"It doesn't matter how much wisdom you have. If you don't have position, you have nothing. That's the tragedy of India," he said.
Rahul Gandhi also said many Indian youths are angry because they have been excluded from the political class.
"We only empower people at the top of the system. We don't believe in empowering all the way to the bottom," he said.
He said change could be possible only if those in power started respecting and empowering people for their knowledge and skills.
"All the public systems, administration, justice, education and political, are designed to keep people with knowledge out," he said.
Such a system promotes mediocrity, he added.
However, opposition parties are already seizing on the fast political rise of Rahul Gandhi, the son, grandson and great-grandson of Indian prime ministers, to brand Congress as nepotistic and elitist.
Arun Jaitley, a leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said Rahul Gandhi's elevation in the Congress party was a move to convert the world's largest democracy into a dynastic nation. Jaitley said the leader of his party was decided on the basis of ability, not lineage.
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