New Delhi: “A bit of banter” – this is how the official Instagram handle of Congress’ Bharat Jodo Yatra described a light exchange between party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Jairam Ramesh on Thursday.
The light-hearted conversation, captured during a Yatra press conference in Madhya Pradesh and posted with a fun title, underpinned the Congress’ efforts to combat popular perception that the Gandhi scion is an inaccessible leader.
Many in the party also hope that such videos and visuals would help it connect with the public, especially the youth.
In the short reel of 1.23 minutes, the party’s General Secretary in-charge of Communications, Jairam Ramesh, is heard taking Rahul Gandhi’s name at least five times while asking him to shorten his replies. At the same time, Ramesh praises Gandhi for taking 17 questions in 40 minutes.
The reel is titled “Rahul Gandhi aur Jairam Ramesh ki press varta ke beech khatti -meethi nok jhok! Aise hi haste-haste masle hal kar lete hain hum — kuch aisa hi hota hain loktantra. (Friendly banter between Rahul Gandhi and Jairam Ramesh at a press conference. We laugh like this and solve issues — this is how a democracy functions).”
राहुल गांधी और जयराम रमेश की प्रेस वार्ता के बीच खट्टी-मीठी नोक-झोंक!
— Bharat Jodo (@bharatjodo) November 28, 2022
During the media meet, Ramesh stands up on the dais, takes a mike and addresses Gandhi, “Rahulji, I would like to request you not to take supplementary (questions).” To this Gandhi says “ok” with a grin on his face.
“I do listen to people, it’s in my nature. And if it is important to do it, then I do it too,” Gandhi says, preparing to cite multiple examples.
But Ramesh interrupts him, and quips: “Rahulji, alag se udharan baad mai dijiyega kyunki 10 minute baaki hai. Rahulji iske baare mai ek alag se kitab likenge!”
Gandhi then goes on to cite an example with “due permission” from Ramesh, leading to much laughter.
Ramesh then says the press conference would be extended by 10 more minutes – this time with “due permission” from “Rahulji” – to take more questions from reporters.
The two reach a compromise, with Gandhi using this opportunity to take a potshot at BJP. “Let’s take 3 questions… Congress party ka compromise dekha aapne? Sabse pehle waha pe toh sawaal ek bhi nahi poocha jayega. Matlab, chance hee nahi hai,’ he says.
ThePrint had earlier reported how videos, photographs, reels etc – posted prolifically by party handles — aimed to combat two major criticisms frequently raked up by Rahul’s detractors: that he is a privileged dynast and an inaccessible leader.
Towards the end of the reel, Ramesh also refers obliquely to Prime Minister Narendra Modi not taking questions from the media. “Rahulji, you took 17 questions in 40 minutes; some people have not even taken a single question in 17 years,” he says, praising the younger leader.
Gandhi shoots back: “Now some numerologist will say 17 is unlucky, make it 18.”