It is a big elevation for you. How do you see it?
I am very thankful to Rahul Gandhi, Soniaji and to Priyankaji for reposing this trust in me and it’s a very big responsibility and I will do my best. The important thing is to make sure that we get the Congress to emerge and that would be my mission.
Were you expecting it?
Not at all.
The big development yesterday was the entry of Priyanka into active politics.
Well, I think that she has now made up her mind to enter public life… It’s not something that you and I can force on an individual. It should be a decision that is taken with a lot of soul-searching because the import and gravity of the decision is very, very serious. Therefore she has taken that decision with a great deal of thought and as far as the party is concerned, it is a decision that we will be looking forward to with great excitement because she brings with her a tremendous capability, a tremendous charisma and it will be very, very complimentary for the party to be able to reach out its voters.
But don’t you think Indian politics has travelled a long way from the days when charisma was tied closely to the dynasty. So do you think it will still work in UP?
Charisma is not tied to any dynasty. Charisma is tied to an individual’s personality, don’t connect dynasty with that. Not all dynasts have charisma… and there are millions of people on the political front and I can take so many names for you who are not dynasts who have a tremendous amount of charisma. So charisma is an attribute which is connected to a personality, not to a lineage. And she has a tremendous amount of that and so does Rahul Gandhi.
The BJP has already said that dynastic politics is at play.
The BJP has a habit of constantly decrying and demolishing democracy. For those who come through the trial of fire through electoral process or those who are given a responsibility by a political party… to bring dynasts and the issue of dynasty in it, I think is a slur on the resilience of the Indian democracy itself. And I think the BJP should look within before slandering those who are not part of the BJP with regard to dynasts. The BJP has its fair share of dynasts. And, I think, to be able to pass a comment like that is to paint everyone with the same brush and I think that’s what the BJP does best.
What is a signal that you’re giving to the UP voter?
The signal is that the Congress party takes Uttar Pradesh with greatest seriousness and commitment. The very fact that Priyanka Gandhi is now general secretary in charge of UP shows the amount of importance that the Congress is attaching to that state.
Is it final that you are going to contest in all the 80 seats?
Well, it is too soon for me to say that. That is the party’s position at this point of time. But let’s see how it evolves. As Rahul Gandhi has said that we have the greatest respect for the BSP and the SP. But we take our position in UP with great seriousness and if a conversation is going to happen, then it will be in the future when our parties get together.
Will Priyanka be contesting from Rae Bareli?
I don’t have any knowledge of that.