Congress leader and former Union Minister P Chidambaram on Monday told News18 that the party had not projected its president, Rahul Gandhi, as its prime ministerial candidate ahead of the General Elections. Chidambaram said the Congress and its alliance partners will take that decision only after the election.

“We never said that we want Rahul Gandhi to be prime minister,” the former Union minister said. “When few Congressmen were talking about it, the All India Congress Committee intervened and stopped such talk. We want the Bharatiya Janata Party to be ousted. In its place, we want to see an alternative government which is progressive, respects freedom of individuals, doesn’t indulge in tax terrorism, gives protection to women and children, and uplifts farmers.”

Chidambaram noted the rise in regional parties and said that they had reduced the combine vote share of the BJP and Congress to less than 50%. The former finance minister alleged that the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government was using “threatening tactics” to discourage parties from allying with the Congress.

On October 5, Gandhi had expressed his willingness to take on the position if his allies wanted him as prime minister. “If they want me, sure,” Gandhi had said at the Hindustan Times Summit.

During a visit to London in August, Gandhi had said he had no ambition of becoming the prime minister . “I don’t have these visions [of seeing myself as prime minister],” he had said. “I view myself as fighting an ideological battle and this change has come in me after 2014.”

In August, Nationalist Congress Party leader Sharad Pawar had said the party that got the most seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections could claim the post of prime minister, reported NDTV. Pawar had said that he was happy with Congress President Rahul Gandhi for saying he was not in the race for the post.

In July, Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati had expelled the party’s vice president and national coordinator Jai Prakash Singh from his post for his remarks against Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Singh had said Gandhi could not become PM as his mother is a foreigner.