New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi, in a speech designed to take over the anti-corruption issue, said that there was a need to "change the political system" to fight graft. He called it his "dil ki baat" - words from the heart. He also said that the Lokpal Bill - aimed at fighting corruption - which is currently in Parliament, will be passed.
Speaking at the rally to push Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) as a political point in Delhi, Mr Gandhi made several references to "changing the system", saying till this was done, India "will not change".
Mr Gandhi's references and language seemed aimed at taking away the anti-corruption lead taken by activist-politician Arvind Kejriwal, who has become the centre of the anti-graft sentiment in the country.
"I have seen the system from within for eight years. I can tell you that the problem is the system," Mr Gandhi said.
A large part of Mr Gandhi's speech was about "opening the doors" of the political system for the aam aadmi. "The political system is closed for the aam aadmi, the weaker sections. When you interact with the system, go to government offices, children want to go to school, youth want jobs, the system is closed for them. Political parties are closed for the aam aadmi. The youth is aspirational, but our system is closed for them," he said.
Mr Gandhi said that the government was committed to bringing the Lokpal Bill in Parliament and blamed the opposition for blocking it in the last winter session. "We will pass it, just wait and watch," he said to the crowds.
He made a strong push for economic reforms, saying that foreign direct investment in retail will benefit farmers, contrary to what the opposition was claiming.
Mr Gandhi also controversially equated FDI with the Kargil war, a comment that's got the Opposition up in arms. "When Kargil happened, we supported Vajpayeeji," he said.
Attacking the Opposition, Mr Gandhi said that it brought up the issue of corruption but didn't talk about changing the system. "Opposition for the sake of it is meaningless, the task at hand is to show the way. And that way has been shown by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Congress party," he said to an estimated audience of one lakh. On the stage with him were the PM and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, apart from other senior party leaders.
He also made a pitch for the UPA's achievements, speaking about the rural employment guarantee scheme, the introduction of Right to Information (RTI) and the Lokpal Bill.
Mr Gandhi also said that the Right to Food bill will be introduced in Parliament. "We want that those who are surviving on half a roti today get a full belly of food," he said.