NEW DELHI: Coming down heavily on the Congress for considering “surname as a political brand”, finance minister Arun Jaitley said on Tuesday the BJP will “gladly accept” the challenge of 2019 general elections if the Congress wants it to be between Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the son of lesser-known parents, and someone who is known for his parentage.
In a Facebook post titled ‘What was the name of Sardar Patel’s father’, Jaitley said that in a dynastic party like the Congress, talent and merit has no space and the crowd around the family is the cadre.
Jaitley’s post comes days after some Congress leaders stoked a controversy by naming family members of Modi.
“If the Congress party wants the 2019 elections to be between Prime Minister Modi, who is the son of lesser-known parents and someone who is known only for his parentage rather than capacity, merit and competence, the BJP would gladly accept the challenge. Let this be the agenda for 2019,” the minister said.
Jaitley said while the age of the Prime Minister’s mother was made a subject matter of the electoral debate, his father’s anonymity was commented upon as an inadequate credential of the Prime Minister.
“The debate whether India should be a dynastic democracy has been ignited by a self-goal of the Congress party … The argument given was that if you represent the legacy of a well-known family, it is a political point in your favour.
“Millions of talented political workers who come from modest family backgrounds would fail by the Congress test of leadership. Merit, talent, ability to inspire and lead would not be a virtue. The Congress considers only a great surname as a political brand,” Jaitley added.
He said that even his “well-informed friends” did not have a “definitive answer” when asked to name Mahatma Gandhi’s father, Sardar Patel’s father or his wife.
“The reason for this is simple. Decades of Congress rule, naming colonies, localities, cities, bridges, airports, railway stations, schools, colleges, universities, stadiums after one family was intended to declare the ‘Gandhis’ as India’s royalty. They were ‘officially glamorised’ as the blue-blooded family of India. The others did not matter,” Jaitley said.
He said the dangers of officially glamorising one family at the cost of those who made a far greater contribution “is dangerous” both for the nation as also for the party to which they belong.