New Delhi, April 12: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Saturday gave clear indication of his willingness to take the prime minister’s post if the Congress wins the Lok Sabha elections and accused BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi of trying to centralise power.
In an interview to Headlines Today, his second interview to a news channel, Gandhi admitted that there was some anti-incumbency against the United Progressive Alliance government.
The Congress-led UPA had done more work than the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and provided employment opportunities to millions of youth but it did not have marketing and glitz, he said.
Gandhi, 43, rubbished opinion polls that have predicted victory for the NDA in the Lok Sabha polls.
“The BJP is good in marketing, but at the end, results count. They did good marketing in 2004, but you saw the results,” he said.
Replying to a question on why the Congress was behind the Bharatiya Janata Party in the election campaign, Gandhi said his party’s base rested in the poor, and their voice is generally sidelined.
“Our thinking is to give more and more rights to the poor. We want to give them a support system. Development is necessary but we have to also prepare human resources. That human resource will come from the poor,” he said.
Gandhi claimed that development in Gujarat, where Modi is chief minister, was not inclusive. “The textile industry in Gujarat got closed. There is malnutrition. The farmers are dying of hunger,” he said.
He alleged the Modi government has given large tracts of the state’s land – “land equivalent to Vadodara city and a coastline equivalent to Mumbai” to an industrial group, without naming the Adani Group.
On becoming the prime minister, Gandhi said newly elected MPs of the party had the right to choose the prime minister and he was prepared to take up the post if MPs choose him.
“If MPs chose me, I will not back out,” he said.
Gandhi is leading the Congress campaign for the Lok Sabha elections but has not been projected as the prime ministerial candidate by the party.
In an oblique attack on the BJP, Gandhi said there was need of secular harmony in the country for rapid growth.
“In five years we will overtake China’s economy, but this target can be achieved only when there is brotherhood among people. If Hindus and Muslims are fighting, if people of Maharashtra are fighting with people from Uttar Pradesh, then we will not progress,” he said.
Growth was possible only when there was partnership between the poor and the industrialists, and that the Congress aimed at creating that partnership, he added.
Gandhi, who filed nomination papers from Amethi Saturday, said that he has empowered around 12 lakh women of his constituency by getting them bank loans.
He is seeking a third term from Amethi once represented by his father, late former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, and his mother Sonia Gandhi.
Gandhi said the UPA government was in power for 10 years and that was an achievement in itself, while it had brought 15 crore people out of poverty and provided rights-based legislations to people.
“There is no marketing. No glitz. That I admit,” he said, adding: “There will be little anti-incumbency. We have to accept that.”
Gandhi said “corruption was a reality” and the party has created an institutional framework to fight it.
He also said he had been striving to make the political system more inclusive but it was a big battle, noting how a handful of people in BJP, Congress and other parties choose Lok Sabha and assembly candidates.
“There is need to empower thousands of people. Modi says give me all power, I will be the watchman,” Gandhi said.