In a rare interview and rare admission, the Congress heir apparent finally admitted that he was ready for the top job.
Amid indications that he could be named Congress’s prime ministerial candidate at a party meeting on Friday, Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said he would abide by the party’s orders and discharge any future responsibilities with utmost sincerity.
In an interview to Dainik Bhaskar daily published on Tuesday, Gandhi contended his party should return to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections “in the interest of the country” and refuted the perception that he was a reluctant politician.
Gandhi, 43, said the party needs to connect with the youth more and said his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra would not contest elections. Saying he did not agree with some ways of the Aam Aadmi Party, Gandhi also hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party for promoting personality-oriented power.
He stressed he was prepared to accept the role decided by his party. “In national interest, it is necessary that Congress comes to power (at the centre). And, for that, whatever responsibility organisation has given me or will give to me in the future, I will discharge it with all my sincerity,” he said.
“We are a democratic organisation and we have faith in democracy. People of India would choose who will be their prime minister through their elected representatives,” he said. To another query, he said: “See, I am a soldier of the Congress. Whatever order I will get, I will abide by that. Whatever Congress tells me, I will do that…..”
Voices have been growing in the Congress on naming Gandhi the prime ministerial candidate.
Party leader Ambika Soni said on Tuesday there was an overwhelming view that Gandhi should lead the battle for 2014 Lok Sabha polls, while Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the party has consistently said that Gandhi was its natural leader.
On the perception of his reluctance for responsibility and the “power is poison” remark at Congress’s Jaipur conclave last year, Gandhi said: “Power is poison does not mean that I am not keen to assume responsibility.
“…there is no word like reluctance in my life. Power is poison is an observation that when power comes how to deal with the threats that come with it. It means that power should be used for welfare of people. Don’t use it to make yourself powerful, big.”
He asserted neither his father Rajiv Gandhi nor grandmother Indira Gandhi – both prime ministers – had ever worked for power.
To a query that people wanted a direct declaration on the prime ministerial candidate, he said senior leaders of the Congress would take the decision, like they have earlier. “Whatever tasks the Congress wanted me to do, I completed that. Whatever responsibility is given to me, I will complete it.”
On BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s “popularity”, Gandhi said that power should not exercised through the thinking of one person or his ways. “The future of 120 crore people can be improved only by taking everybody along. Congress is in the DNA of this country. BJP is talking of a Congress-free India. It does not understand that Congress is the only political force that has kept the people together,” he said.
He said Congress and AAP had different approaches. “Congress is a strong and dynamic organisation. It has changed the nature of polity in the past and will do so in the future. From the time I have come in politics, we have been raising these issues. Some of these have been implemented by the Aam Aadmi Party. But our and their approaches are different.”
To a question about his sister’s role, Gandhi said: “Priyanka is my sister and my friend. Also, she is an active worker of the Congress. And due to this, she helps to provide strength to me and the organisation. I do not think she will have an electoral role.” (IANS)