BENGALURU: Congress leader and long-time associate of the Gandhi family Sam Pitroda says India’s diversity is at threat and people have to decide on what kind of nation they want to build. According to him, the Karnataka election is crucial for national politics as it will dictate the mindset in 2019 General election. Excerpts.
How to make Congress an effective election-fighting organisation?
The Congress has been a party based on movement and not on structure. The RSS is based on structure and cadre. We don’t have cadre. So if you want to build a party for modern India, we will have to build organisational architecture. In the past, there was no need for such an organisational architecture. But, RSS over a period of 70 years, built it. So, the Congress will have to build a structure.
You have worked with Rajiv Gandhi and now with Rahul. What are the changes you see?
It is much more complicated now. There are too many tools and everyone has smart phones and they think they can make an impact. Everyone feels they are empowered, but that empowerment is seen in a wrong way. Today, social media is used to promote lies. To some extent, we have given this monkey a toy and the monkey doesn’t know what to do with it.
Do you think Congress can stop Modi in 2019?
I have no answer. All I can say is that people have to make a decision. Do you trust an honest young man, who has the sincerity and backing of the Congress, or you trust a man, who lied his way through for five years and did not deliver.
Do you advise Rahul?
No, I don’t. But, I have a very good chemistry with him at a personal level. I was his father’s friend and have seen him as a little boy. So, we talk and he pays attention if I say something. We do spend a lot of time when we go abroad. He is basically a good guy. He is not Pappu. He is well read, simple and humble.
Congress manifesto says it will increase IT contribution from $60 billion to $300 billion in the next 5 years. Is it realistic?
IT that we understand today is different from IT that we will see in the next 10 years. Software orders coming from aboard or banks are going to dry up. IT of tomorrow will be different, it is going to be in cars, in smart cities, in agriculture, in defence ... $300 billion target may be difficult, but its aspirational.
Is it a good idea to give free smart phones to students as promised in the manifesto?
The idea is good, the question is how you implement it. If you give smart phones to students with education apps it is a good idea. If you are just giving a phone without those apps then it is a disaster.