Kestur Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday pitched himself in for a prime ministerial contest against Narendra Modi in 2019.
Hours after Rahul predicted the ouster of Modi in next year’s general elections, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi addressed her first public rally in 20 months and launched an all-out attack against the Prime Minister.
Making known his ambition for the topmost post, the Congress president said he is ready to occupy the Prime Minister’s post if the Congress emerges as the “biggest” party in the 2019 lok Sabha polls.
“Well, it depends....it depends on how well the Congress does in the election....I mean, if it emerges as the biggest party, yes,” Rahul said, when asked during an interaction here if he would be the next Prime Minister.
This is not the first time Rahul 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.
Rahul 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 the 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 in Bengaluru 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 the RSS, Rahul said the forces his party was fighting against are trying to disrupt open-minded atmosphere, peace and the brotherhood in India.
later speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the programme, Rahul attacked Modi for aiding Yeddyurappa. He sought explanation from Modi why Yeddyurappa was declared chief ministerial candidate.
He said, “People of Karnataka want to know, why Narendra Modi could not find a non-corrupt chief ministerial candidate. They also want to know why Narendra Modi has given eight tickets to the Reddy brothers who have stolen Rs 35,000 crore of the people of Karnataka.”
The Congress chief also hit out at BJP president Amit Shah and said he was a murder accused. “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”.
Making light of Rahul’s readiness to unseat the incumbent Prime Minister and occupy the post himself after the lok Sabha polls, the BJP on Tuesday asked him to try win State elections before harbouring “lofty dreams”.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said while it is Rahul’s right to “dream” about becoming the Prime Minister, even Congress’ allies were not accepting him as their leader. He reminded Rahul that after he became Congress vice president, “his party lost 13 States and after he took over as party president, it has lost five States and Karnataka will be the sixth one”.
While Rahul has been campaigning across the State for weeks, first time since August 2016, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday hit the campaign trail with a rally at Vijayapura and kept the focus of her attack on Modi.
“Modi ji thinks he is a good orator, I agree with him. He speaks like an actor. I’ll be happy if his speeches can fill empty stomachs, but that cannot happen. Food is needed for that. You cannot fill your stomach with your speeches. Modi ji’s speeches cannot cure diseases,” Sonia said.
“What happened to PM Modi’s promise of non-corruptionIJ Where’s lokpalIJ What is your model of anti-corruption, PM Modi -- the model adopted by your candidates in Karnataka, or by the son of your closest aideIJ” Sonia said. “I’m confident that the people of Karnataka would see through the lies of the BJP and will re-elect the Congress for inclusive governance,” she added.
It’s a coincidence both the Prime Minister and the UPA chairperson addressed poll rallies at Vijayapura in north Karnataka on the same day.
She attacked Modi for his barb on making Congress-mukt Bharat and said the PM was distorting history for political gains. “Wherever Modi ji goes he says wrong things and distorts historical facts. He uses the names of heroes from our history for his political motives”. “Modi ji is obsessed about Congress-mukt Bharat, he is so focused on it that he cannot see any opposition against him,” she added.
Sonia took a jibe at the PM for his ‘sabka-saath sabka-vikas’. The Congress chief said, “All States that suffered drought were given compensation (by the Centre), Karnataka was provided with the least, this was like rubbing salt into the wounds of farmers. I ask Modi ji, is this your ‘sabka-saath sabka-vikas’IJ” “Farmers of Karnataka have been suffering due to drought, your CM Siddaramaiah wanted to meet the PM over this issues but the PM refused. By doing this he has insulted not only the farmers but also the State of Karnataka,” she remarked.