On being asked about what advice he has for those contesting to become the next Congress president, Rahul said: “You are taking on a position which is historic and defines a particular view of India. It is not just an organisational post, it is an ideological post which represents a belief system. My advice is that the party chief should remember that he represents a set of ideas and beliefs — an idea of India.
He added that it was a “good thing” that many people were vying for the top post in the party.
Rahul said that such questions do not arise in other parties like the BJP or the RSS as the Congress “is the only party that holds such procedures”.
Taking a swipe at the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh quipped that Rahul has had two press interactions in the last 15 days while “there are leaders of other parties that have not given a single interview in the last 20 years”.
This comes on a day when the party’s central election authority issued a notification for the president polls, which will be held on October 17. The counting of votes and the declaration of results will be on October 19.
Rahul also backed the Congress’s “one-man, one-post” rule in a clear signal that Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot — the frontrunner for Congress president — may not get to play a double role. “We have made a commitment in Udaipur, I expect that will be maintained,” he said.
Gehlot, 71, is the favourite choice for the next party chief but he does not want to give up the role of Rajasthan CM. If he does, he fears he will be replaced by rival Sachin Pilot, whose rebellion nearly brought down his government in 2020.
“This is an open poll. Anyone out of the 9,000 PCC members can contest, be it an MP, MLA or CM or minister. If it is a minister, he can be a minister and also Congress chief,” Gehlot had said on Wednesday, adding that he would present the state’s 2023 budget.
“Will not accept hatred, anger and violence being spread by BJP, RSS”
On his ongoing Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul Gandhi said he has three main issues that he wants to highlight.
“We will not accept the hatred, anger and violence being spread by the BJP and the RSS. India will not accept a situation where youth cannot get employment. And we will not accept an India where the poor are drowning in high prices,” the Congress leader said,
“I am very clear about what my goal with the yatra is: to put across to Indians that the hatred, violence and arrogance that is now visible across the nation is not good. Non-violence, humility and compassion is true India … Disparity between the rich and the poor has reached a point of no return. There are a handful of people who have immense wealth. This contrast is not good for India,” said Rahul.
“The yatra is designed to tell the people that they need to be united and go back to an India which was loving and affectionate to itself,” he said.
On being asked about raids on PFI offices and leaders’ residences, Rahul said that all forms of communalism “regardless of where they come from” should be combated. “There should be zero tolerance towards it,” he added.
“Have clear view of what needs to be done in UP”
On why the yatra is spending only a few days in Uttar Pradesh, Rahul said the yatra was about covering India from one point to another and that it could not possibly cover every state in one go. “We have a very clear view of what has to be done in UP,” he added.
(With inputs from agencies)