“Yes, why not,” was Congress president Rahul Gandhi’s response on Tuesday when asked if he will become the Prime Minister in 2019 if the Congress emerges as the single largest party after the Lok Sabha elections, reported news agency PTI. Gandhi was in Bengaluru ahead of the Karnataka Assembly elections to launch the Samruddha Bharat Foundation — “a platform to propagate liberal, secular and republican values”.
“Well, it depends… it depends on how well the Congress does in the election… I mean if it emerges as the biggest party, yes,” Gandhi was quoted as saying by PTI.
Gandhi expressed confidence that Prime Minister Narendra Modi would not be re-elected to the post next year. “It is highly unlikely that BJP will form the next government, and the second part is that it is close to impossible that Modi will be the next prime minister,” Gandhi reportedly said.
— Congress (@INCIndia) May 8, 2018
Gandhi took the reins of the Congress last December from his mother and now UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi. He has been elected at a time when the Congress is at its weakest, electorally and politically, in its 133-year history. From helming governments in 19 states 24 years ago, the party today is in power only in four states and one Union Territory — Punjab, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Karnataka and Puducherry. The BJP, in comparison, is in power in 21 of 29 states in the country — the first time in history that a party has gained control in so many states.
BJP makes fun
The BJP took potshots at Gandhi over his remarks, saying the Congress president, who is harbouring “lofty dreams” despite his party’s losing spree, should first try to win state elections.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said while it is Gandhi’s right to “dream” about becoming the prime minister, even Congress’ allies were not accepting him as their leader. He reminded Gandhi that after he became Congress vice president, “his party lost 13 states and after he took over as party president, it has lost five states and Karnataka will be the sixth one”.
“Look at the irony, Congress is losing state after state ever since Gandhi took over as party’s vice president and then party chief. But he is dreaming to become the prime minister. Even Congress’ allies are not accepting him as their leader,” Hussain told reporters.
The BJP leader emphasised that the country will once again elect Narendra Modi as their prime minister. “Aakhir dil ki baat zubaan par aa hi gayi (Finally what was in his heart has come out,” Hussain said on Gandhi’s remarks
NCP comes in Rahul’s support
The NCP said there was nothing wrong in Gandhi’s statement that he is ready to become the prime minister if his party wins the maximum number of seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which was part of the UPA government from 2004 to 2014, is expected to ally with the Congress again for the general elections next year.
NCP national spokesman Nawab Malik said there was nothing to object to Gandhi’s statement. “If people decide to entrust the Congress with the job of ruling the country, he (Rahul Gandhi) will be the prime ministerial candidate,” he said.
(With PTI inputs)