For the first time, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has indicated that he is ready to be the Prime Minister if his party is voted back to power. Said to be hesitant to take up the responsibility even as the chorus to declare him the prime ministerial candidate grows within the party, Rahul has said he has never been reluctant in life, asserting that he would take up whatever work is given to him by the party.
In an interview to Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar just three days ahead of the AICC session, Rahul also made it clear that his sister Priyanka Vadra would not take up any electoral role. “Priyanka is my sister and friend. Besides, she is an active member of the Congress, because of which she is helping to strengthen me and the organisation. I do not think she will have any electoral role,” he said.
While he signalled his willingness to take up the PM’s post — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already announced that he will not seek a third term even if the UPA returns to power — Rahul did not indicate whether he would be the Congress’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Significantly, he said the Congress has never been specific on this.
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To a specific question on whether he would take up the Prime Minister’s post, he said, “We are a democratic organisation. We believe in democracy. The people of the country will decide through the elected representatives who will the Prime Minister of this country. It is imperative in the national interest that the Congress comes to power. And for that, whatever responsibility the organisation has given me and will give in the future, I will carry that out with full dedication,” he said.
Asked about the perception that he was reluctant to take up the responsibility, he said, “This decision is taken by senior leaders”.
On his earlier remarks that “power is poison”, which was being interpreted as his reluctance to stay away from the top post, he said, “Power is poison does not mean that I am not keen to take up responsibility. There is no word called reluctance in my life. Power is poison is an observation, which is about the dangers that come with power and how to deal with it.”
Asked why the party was not issuing a specific declaration on its prime ministerial candidate, he said, “The Congress has never been specific on this. Whatever work the Congress has given me, I have accomplished it, and whatever it will give I will complete it… I am a solider of the Congress. I will follow whatever order is given to me.”
Expressing his dismay over the continuing debate on the prime ministerial candidate, he said, “My question is why do all arguments zero in on one post? Why is this debated at the national level? Why is a particular person or post always debated. Why is there no talk about reforms in politics? Why is nobody willing to talk about changing the system? The talk should centre around how we can change the political system.”
Targeting the opposition, he said, “The BJP wants a personality-centered regime which is not in the interest of the country. The government should not run according to the thinking and ways of a particular person. The future of 120 crore people can be shaped and improved only by taking everybody along. Congress is in the DNA of this country. The BJP is talking of a Congress-free India. It does not understand that Congress alone is the political power which has kept people of this country united.”