Congress president Rahul Gandhi said today he is ready to occupy the prime minister’s post if his party emerges as the “biggest” party in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, making known his ambition for the topmost executive post.
“Well, it depends....it depends on how well the Congress does in the election....I mean, if it emerges as the biggest party, yes,” Gandhi said, when asked during an interaction here if he would be the next prime minister.
This is not the first time Gandhi has spoken about his prime ministerial ambition. In an interaction at the Berkley University in the US in September last year, Gandhi had said he was “absolutely ready” to be the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress in 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
Amid the cut and thrust of the Karnataka Assembly polls, Gandhi said he is “pretty confident” that Narendra Modi would not be the next prime minister, and if the Congress acts as a “platform” (with other parties in a coalition), the BJP does not stand a chance of winning the elections.
“It is highly unlikely that BJP will form the next government, and the second part is that it is close to impossible that Modi will be the next prime minister,” Gandhi said, speaking at a function where he launched ‘Samruddha Bharat Foundation’. The ‘Samruddha Bharat Foundation’ is a platform to propagate liberal, secular and republican values across the country. Its trustees include veteran film director Shyam Benegal and noted Supreme Court advocate KTS Tulsi.
He said the opposition unity would not allow the BJP to remain in power. He asserted the Congress would win the Assembly polls in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.
Referring to the BJP and RSS, Gandhi said the forces his party was fighting against were trying to disrupt open-minded atmosphere, peace and the brotherhood that existed in India.
Drawing a comparison between the RSS and Muslim Brotherhood, Gandhi said their agenda was to come to power, and then capture institutions. “The BJP and RSS will repeat one more cycle of getting elected democratically and then discard democracy,” he alleged. “The RSS over here and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt,Pakistan, Tunisia, Turkey....they are doing the same thing. The RSS and Muslim Brotherhood do not see elections the way we see them. We win an election and we are okay with losing an election,” he said.
Gandhi said the Congress never faced an “existential crisis” on losing an election but the BJP and the RSS "see elections as a way into government, and once they enter, they want to capture every single institution in India".
The Congress leader claimed demonetisation was the BJP’s way to tell the country that there was not a single institution in the country that was “immune” to the saffron party.
He said the BJP praised Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and B R Ambekdar upfront but destroyed their legacy. “Their method is to praise the leader, praise the icon, worship the icon and destroy every single thing he used to do,” Gandhi said.
Later speaking to reporters, Gandhi said Modi should explain to the people of Karnataka why a "corrupt person who went to jail" was made the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate. "People of Karnataka want to know, why Narendra Modi could not find a non-corrupt chief ministerial candidate. They also want to know why Mr Narendra Modi has given eight tickets to the Reddy brothers who have stolen Rs 35,000 crore of the people of Karnataka,” he said. Karnataka BJP chief B S Yeddyurappa is the party’s chief ministerial face in the polls.
Responding to a question about BJP president Amit Shah, Gandhi said he was accused of murder. “The Supreme Court has mentioned the (judge) Loya case. So I don’t think Amit Shah has a lot of credibility. Let’s look at his background. Let’s see what he is responsible for. Let’s see how he does politics. Also don’t forget he is a murder accused. This is fundamental. People in India forget that the president of BJP is a murder accused. That’s the truth. The party that talks about honesty, decency, has a person who has been accused of murder,” he said.
Shah was an accused in the alleged fake encounter killings of gangster Sohrabuddin Sheikh and his aide Tulsiram Prajapati.
A special CBI court in Mumbai had, however, discharged him in 2014, observing the case had “political overtones” and allegations against him were not substantiated by the prosecution.