Congress President Rahul Gandhi has claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is “an expression of India’s weaknesses – anger and hatred” and accused him of generating hate. “And that has its costs,” Gandhi told The Week magazine in a wide-ranging interview. “You can’t have a country that is divided, which is full of hate, and get the levels of economic growth that India requires to generate a huge number of jobs.”

The Opposition leader said that India is a young country and claimed that youngsters think they do not have a future. “They can’t see how they can pull themselves out of this jobs crisis, and the Indian government has to give them an answer to this,” he added.

“The first step in resolving a crisis is accepting that there is a problem,” Gandhi said. “I am very clear about the fact that when the last UPA government was in power, we were unable to do enough to resolve the jobs crisis.”

The Congress president blamed the prime minister for aggravating the situation by “introducing demonetisation and Gabbar Singh Tax [Goods and Services Tax], and allowing Anil Ambani-style crony capitalism to run rampant”.

The Congress president disputed the prime minister’s claim that his government has created 10 crore jobs. “Ask the youth in rural India and in smaller towns and cities what they do, and the answer you hear most often is, nothing,” Gandhi told The Week. “China creates 50,000 jobs every day. India creates just 450, as per government figures.”

Asked about the Congress’ plan to introduce minimum income guarantee for the poor, Gandhi said the scheme alone cannot transform India. “But, under the current circumstances and at the level of pain India is feeling, it is a requirement,” he added.

Gandhi said providing people with a sense of security is one component of transformation and there is a need to go beyond that. “Going beyond it would mean tackling the jobs crisis on a war footing,” he added.

The Congress president targeted the government over the Rafale matter, and criticised its economic policy. “The idea that Mr Modi is imposing order on India is ridiculous,” he added. “I don’t understand how demonetisation was imposing order. It was absolute buffoonery. Any economist will tell you that the person who came up with demonetisation does not have a clue as to what that person is talking about. Imposing a five-tier GST on India – what type of order are you talking about? We don’t want that order.”

Asked if he would become the prime minister, the Congress president sidestepped the question. “That is not for me to say,” Gandhi said. “That is for the people of India to say. That is for India to decide. My job right now is to make sure that this ideological fight that is taking place is won by those I call the Uniters –the people who want to see this country together.”

When pointed out that there was no pan-India coalition of Opposition parties, Gandhi said the entire coalition was aligned against Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party. “And we have an understanding with our partners in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and Assam,” he added. “Those alliances are firmed up. There are also Opposition forces we may not enter into an alliance with, but with whom we are aligned ideologically and who will work with us to ensure that the BJP does not return to power in Delhi.”