As the one-and-a-half month-long election campaign came to a close, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Friday refused to hazard a guess on the number of seats his party would get and who could be the next Prime Minister if the BJP is defeated.
He merely said he was sure that parties like the TDP, TMC, BSP and SP would not support a BJP government. His party, on the other hand, said it would emerge as the single largest party and naturally lead the next government.
Addressing a press conference, Rahul mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, called the Election Commission “partial”, and argued that even the parties that did not have an alliance with the Congress were “ideologically” “on the same page as us.”
However, Rahul parried questions on the post-May 23 possibilities: “I am not going to disrespect the people of this country by judging what they are going to do… The people will decide on May 23. And we will work and take a decision on the basis of the people’s decision.”
He said he did not see Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu supporting a BJP or Narendra Modi government. He said that while the Congress may not have had an alliance in Uttar Pradesh or West Bengal, he was sure that “secular formations are going to win the maximum number of seats in those states”.
Hours earlier, his party predicted that a situation similar to 2004 and 2009 would emerge on May 23. “We believe the Congress will be the single largest party. Naturally if we have the numbers and is the single largest party, the single largest party… which is the Congress party must lead the next government,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said. He added that the Congress “will like to carry people and political parties with different shades of opinion along with us”, and if necessary “walk an extra mile to carry them with us”.
On Modi’s press conference, Rahul said, “Very impressive. So the Prime Minister’s first press conference has come 4-5 days before the election results. Very good. I heard the Prime Minister is accompanying Amit Shah in a press briefing. Unprecedented event.
He tweeted later, “Congratulations Modi Ji. Excellent Press Conference! Showing up is half the battle. Next time Mr Shah may even allow you to answer a couple of questions. Well done!”
On the EC, he alleged, “Modi says whatever he wants. Someone else (saying) the same thing, gets pulled up, but Modi can say whatever he wants. So there was clear partiality. And we saw partiality in one more thing. The election schedule, it seems, was drawn up for Modi’s campaign.”
He said the BJP had unlimited funds, unlimited marketing, unlimited television, but the Congress put up a great fight. “The election was fought on three-four issues. Unemployment, the plight of farmers, Rafale fighter jet corruption, the state of the economy, notebandi and gabbar singh tax and Narendra Modi did not reply to any of these issues,” he said.
He also took a dig at the media, “I have a complaint to the media people. You ask hard questions to me. Where will the money for the Nyay scheme come and all… But to Modi, saab how do you eat mangoes, saab how do you dress up, why are you wearing half sleeve kurtas… Be a bit fair.”
Rahul said Modi “had a huge opportunity” to take on the challenge of joblessness, help farmers, but “he lost sight of the real picture. He forgot that the Indian people had not put him as Prime Minister to give speeches, and to tell the Indian people what he thought. They had put him in place to do a couple of concrete jobs. Unemployment, farmers’ situation, economy and put India on a trajectory, on a path and give India a new vision.”