ALLAHABAD: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi came in for sharp criticism on Tuesday for saying that poverty was a “state of mind.”
Political leaders said the statement made in Allahabad showed how much the Gandhi scion was cut off from the ground reality.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Uttar Pradesh spokesman Vijay Bahadur Pathak said Gandhi’s statement smacked of arrogance.
“This is not only sad but also makes mockery of the poor,” Pathak said.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui said the Congress leader was ignorant and did not know the ground situation.
“He comes from a billionaire family and many generations in the Gandhi Nehru family have not seen poverty even from a distance. So they cannot be blamed for their poor knowledge,” he said.
Speaking at a discourse on “Culture, Deepening Democracy and Most Marginalised Communities,” organised by social scientist Badri Narayan on Monday, Gandhi had said that poverty was a state of mind.
“Poverty is just a state of mind. It does not mean the scarcity of food, money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence, then one can overcome poverty,” Gandhi was quoted as saying by the organisers.
Going further, Gandhi cited the example of a poor woman in Amethi who took control of her life, both financially and socially, by getting associated with a self-help group, Rajiv Gandhi Mahila Vikas Pariyojana.
The comment has drawn more attention than his story and much criticism.
On Twitter, @avinashbhat01 said, “If Poverty is a state of mind, So admit all poor people in Indian to mental hospitals, they will be cured to be rich!” @Devinder_Sharma added, “Now Rahul Gandhi says poverty is a state of mind.
“I wish he was born in a poor family!!”
Gandhi, along with his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is believed to be one of the champions of the Rs125 billion food security scheme of the ruling Congress, which aims to give cheap food to India’s poor.
He frequently interacts with the poor in remote villages as he did on Monday too in and around Allahabad, assuring them that, “my one and only political aim is that I want to tune my ears to the voice of the poor and the marginalised.”
That statement has, however, failed to trend.
Rahul was shown black flags by youth wing members of the BJP in Allahabad during his day-long visit.
Rahul was in the city to inaugurate a hospital named after his great grandmother Kamla Nehru.
BJP Yuva Morcha cadres waved black flags in Jhunsi in Allahabad at Rahul’s motorcade.
The Congress vice president had met with a similar hostile reception a few years ago in Allahabad when Samajwadi Party youth wing workers had shown him black flags and thrown black balloons at his car.
The Shiromani Akali Dal president and Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal said the statement itself was a reflection of the mindset of Rahul Gandhi “who was yet to understand India and its people.”
Badal said the under privileged section of society also had aspirations and wanted to progress in life. He said it was surprising that Rahul did not understand this sentiment and was not aware that it was the Gandhi family, which had trapped the nation in a vicious circle of poverty, corruption and economic uncertainty.
Indo-Asian News Service