Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said he had no ambition to become the prime minister of India. “I don’t have these visions,” said Gandhi, who was speaking to members of the Indian Journalists Association in London, when asked if he sees himself as the next prime minister.
He said he has been fighting an ideological battle since 2014. “I realised that there’s a risk to Indian state, to Indian way of doing things and I’m defending that,” said the Congress president, according to the Hindustan Times.
Gandhi said the 2019 Lok Sabha elections will be “pretty straightforward: BJP on one side and the entire Opposition on the other”, adding that ultimately the “original idea of India” will win. “We are defending an onslaught on the Indian Constitution and institutions,” he said. “Me and the entire opposition see it as defending the nature of the Indian state [in the 2019 elections].”
He claimed that everybody in the Opposition as well as allies of the National Democratic Alliance feel there is a systematic attack on Indian institutions. “There is this mood that we need to defend the institutions, we need to defend the idea of one man one vote, we need to defend the inclusive idea of India,” said Gandhi, reported PTI.
The Congress chief also alleged that fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya met Bharatiya Janata Party leaders before fleeing India. “Before Mallya left India, he met senior BJP leaders, that is documented,” he said. “[But] I won’t name them.”
“Indian prisons are pretty decent as far as Mr Mallya is concerned,” said Gandhi referring to a UK court’s demand for video footage of the condition of Mumbai’s Arthur Road jail, where Mallya will be held if extradited. Mallya’s defence team has raised several questions about the living conditions in the jail. “Justice should be same for Indian people,” said Gandhi.
He criticised the Narendra Modi-led government for going easy on tycoons like Mallya, Nirav Modi and Mehjul Choksi who are wanted for cheating Indian banks. “There is a relationship between Nirav Modi, Mehul Choksi and the prime minister,” Gandhi claimed. “No action is taken against them.”
Gandhi accused Modi of generating anger among the unemployed youth and riding on it for his own benefit. “Modi, instead of calming this anger, instead of telling our country that listen, yes we have a problem called a job problem and we are going to work together to fix it, Modi does something very unpatriotic,” he said. “He takes that anger and utilises it for himself, and he damages our country.”
The Congress chief said every economist said demonetisation was a “crazy idea”. “But the real problem is like institutions like RBI, that have defended the move,” he said. “You lock your Cabinet in a room – you don’t ask them. That is the voice of India – you lock the voice of India in a room.”
Gandhi, who is on a tour abroad, has received flak for saying that his party was not involved in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Before that, on August 22, he said that incidents of mob lynching in India were the result of unemployment and “destruction” of small businesses due to demonetisation, and the poor implementation of the Goods and Services Tax.