The reticent and reluctant leader agreed to a first-time sit down TV interview with some who is not known to pull his punches.
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi on Monday admitted some Congress members were probably involved in the 1984 riots, in which innocent people had died.
“Some Congressmen were probably involved…There is a legal process through which they have gone through… Some Congressmen have been punished for it,” he said in an interview to Times Now news channel.
Referring to his grandmother and late prime minister Indira Gandhi’s loss in 1977 Lok Sabha elections, he said: “The people who came with my grandmother, those people who stood by my grandmother, were Sikhs.”
“Pretty much everyone had deserted my grandmother but the Sikhs were standing with my grandmother. I think the Sikhs are probably one of the industrious people in this country. I admire them; we have a PM who is a Sikh,” Gandhi said, referring to Manmohan Singh.
Gandhi said he did not have the same worldview as opposition parties. “What those two people did to my grandmother, was two individuals, I don’t turn around and take my anger which existed then, frankly, it doesn’t exist now and brush it onto an entire community, that’s just not me,” he said.
“I do not take my anger which existed on two individuals who did something evil and wrong and overlay it on millions of people. I think that’s criminal. Did the Sikh riots take place in Delhi? Absolutely. Were they completely wrong? Absolutely,” Gandhi said.
Asked why does he not apologise for 1984 riots, Gandhi said: “Innocent people died in 1984 and innocent people dying is a horrible thing and should not happen.”
Rahul Gandhi also said he doesn’t “invoke” his famous family name as he didn’t choose to be born in the family. “I don’t actually keep invoking my family name, I have mentioned my family name once or twice and then people report that,” Gandhi said in his television interview to Times Now editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami on being asked why he touts his family background and for further entrenching the dynasty system.
“The real issue is that I didn’t choose to be born in this family, I didn’t sign up and say that I like to be born in this family… It happened, so the choice in front of me is pretty simple… I can either turn around and say okay I will just walk away from this thing and leave it alone, or I can say I can try and improve something,” he added.
Rahul Gandhi’s great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi have all served as India’s prime minister.
He said that “every single thing” he has done in his political career has been to bring in youngsters. “I am absolutely against the concept of dynasty, anybody who knows me knows that and understands that.”
But, in the same breath, he said that it cannot be wished away as it is a closed system.
“…you have to open the system. Dynasty or children of politicians becoming powerful happens in the BJP, it happens in the DMK, it happens in the SP, it happens in the Congress party, it happens everywhere.”
He also said that the reason children of politicians keep getting repositioned is because the system is closed. ”You are not going to change that without opening the system, you are not going to open the system without having processes, the system is not going to open by waving a wand and saying Abracadabra, let us open the system. It is going to take time, it is going to take effort and it is going to take structure. That is the work that I do.”
Gandhi in his first major TV interview also said: “I think we will defeat the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) in the next elections.”
To a query by Arnab Goswami on whether he feared a direct battle with BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Gandhi said he does not like what he sees in Indian politics and that the “system in the country” needs to change.
He also dwelt on the pain of the circumstances in which he grew up – witnessing the assassination of his grandmother, then prime minister Indira Gandhi, and his father, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.
“In my life, I have seen my grandmother die, I have seen my father die, I have seen my grandmother go to jail and I have actually been through a tremendous amount of pain as a child when these things happen to you. What I had to be scared of, I lost. There is absolutely nothing I am scared of. I have an aim. I have a clear aim in my mind and the aim is that I do not like what I see in Indian politics, it is something that is inside my heart,” he said. (IANS)