Congress softens Rahul-as-PM stand, says BJP’s defeat keyhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/congress-softens-rahul-as-pm-stand-says-bjps-defeat-key-5274494/

Congress softens Rahul-as-PM stand, says BJP’s defeat key

The Congress Tuesday suggested that its main target in the 2019 Lok Sabha election would be to “defeat the RSS-backed BJP’’ for which it would “bring all the Opposition parties together”.

Congress softens Rahul-as-PM stand, says BJP’s defeat key
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi with Congress president Rahul Gandhi during the CWC meeting in New Delhi (Express Photo/Renuka Puri/File)

Two days after the Congress indicated that it was keen that Rahul Gandhi be the prime ministerial face for the Opposition alliance, the party on Tuesday suggested that its main target in the 2019 Lok Sabha election would be to “defeat the RSS-backed BJP’’ for which it would “bring all the Opposition parties together”.

“We will bring all the Opposition parties together. Let us get together to defeat BJP. That is important as of now. Let us see how the dice rolls (post elections),” said a source, indicating that the Congress would not insist on declaring Rahul as the prime ministerial candidate for the Opposition alliance.

According to sources in the party, the success of an alliance of Opposition parties would depend on the tie-ups in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. “If we manage to bring in the alliances, Modi and the BJP will not be able to make it in 2019. If the BJP does not make 230-240 seats, Modi cannot be the Prime Minister. He will not be able to make it if these alliances work,” the source said.

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The shift in the party’s stand — that it is not particular on Rahul becoming the Prime Minister — came on a day BSP chief Mayawati announced that her party would join the alliance only if it gets a “respectable” number of seats in the seat-sharing arrangement. The source added that the Congress is open to the candidature of anybody, including West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee or Mayawati, for the top slot.

“She (Mamata) too is from a Congress mindset,” the source said.

‘’Without any disrespect, hatred or anger, we are going to get the Opposition parties together,” the source said, adding, ‘’India cannot be run when it is divided. It is a fantasy of Narendra Modi and Mohan Bhagwat that they can win by dividing the country. You are going to see the complete decimation of the BJP.’’

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On Sunday, after the first CWC meeting chaired by Rahul Gandhi as party president, the Congress had clarified its position to its present and potential allies that it was open to specific alliances for the next Lok Sabha polls and stressed on its pan-India presence to pitch Rahul as a prime ministerial face.

The Congress, sources said, is of the view that it would perform better in states where it is in direct fight with the BJP. Sources said the party was confident that it would get more than a dozen seats in states like Gujarat and would perform much better in Rajasthan.

Claiming that the ‘’politics of hatred and polarisation’’ would be rejected by the people in the 2019 election, the Congress leaders argued that the policies of the BJP-led government have gone against the interests of Dalits, tribals, women and minorities. “Congress as a party stands for the weakest, it is in our DNA,’’ the source said.