In first televised interview after being elected as Congress president, Rahul Gandhi takes digs at Narendra Modi, says he feels only love for the Prime Minister
In a clever bid to change the ‘Rahul is BJP’s ally’ narrative built over the years by BJP leaders, Congress president-elect Rahul Gandhi has said that he thinks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as his “biggest help” in the Congress party’s quest to win the ongoing Gujarat assembly polls.
The remarks by the Nehru-Gandhi scion, made in his first televised interview that was broadcast on Wednesday, have expectedly riled the BJP which has moved the Election Commission complaining of a violation of the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) by Rahul Gandhi. The BJP has, in three separate complaints filed with the Election Commission, claimed that since campaigning for the second phase of the Gujarat assembly polls had ended on Tuesday evening, Rahul’s interview broadcast on Wednesday was a violation of the MCC as it also was a means for canvassing.
The BJP’s complaints notwithstanding, Rahul Gandhi’s remarks in the interview to Gujarat Samachar TV come as an effective counter to the broadside launched against him and the Congress party by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the course of the Gujarat Assembly poll campaign, minus the vitriol that is characteristic of the Premier’s poll speeches.
In light of Prime Minister’s recent accusation against the Congress party, former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and suspended party leader Mani Shankar Aiyar of hatching a “conspiracy with Pakistan” to oust the BJP from Gujarat, Rahul called for a “shift in the political discourse” prevailing in the country today and said “we may have political differences but even during election campaigns I want a political discourse that is polite”.
The punchline, however, was Rahul’s response to questions on his party’s poll prospects in Gujarat – a state where the party has been out of power for the past 22 years – and its strength in the home state of Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah. Stressing that the Congress was looking at a “comprehensive victory” in Gujarat, Rahul said “my biggest help is Prime Minister Modi”. Rahul has often been mocked by BJP leaders and its sympathisers for being the “biggest ally” of the saffron party – a sarcastic dig aimed at highlighting the Nehru-Gandhi scion’s failure in ensuring his party’s victory against the BJP in a score of elections where he has led the Congress’ campaign.
The Congress president-elect reiterated his attack against the Prime Minister – one that he raised for the entire duration of the Gujarat poll campaign – claiming that while he was “talking about Gujarat and the issues that face Gujarat, the Prime Minister is evading issues of the people”.
“I’ve been talking about Gujarat’s issues for three months. He’s insulting Dr Manmohan Singh. Not talking about issues, evading issues of the people, instead insulting Manmohan Singh,” Rahul said.
The Amethi MP also dismissed speculation of him having undergone a “makeover”, claiming instead that “the people are now getting to see the real me”.
“I haven’t had a makeover, people are finally able to see the real me. The truth about Rahul Gandhi has been distorted by money and BJP workers. Many people are employed to tarnish my image. It costs a lot of money (to do that),” Rahul said. The statement was in line with what Rahul had said earlier, during his interaction with students at a university in the United States. He had claimed then that the BJP, through a team of social media recruits, was engaging in spreading a “false image…that of a foolish Rahul Gandhi”.
Rahul also took a dig at the Prime Minister over his much-publicised ride in a seaplane from the Sabarmati Riverfront in Ahmedabad to Dharoi Dam in Mehsana district on Tuesday, hours before campaigning for the second phase of the Gujarat Assembly polls was to come to an end.
“The BJP lacks a vision for Gujarat. That’s why the PM is not talking about issues… just roaming around here and there instead. No talk about farmers’ issues, nothing (sic),” Rahul said.
Asked whether he feels anger or hatred towards Modi “who often insults his family members”, the Nehru-Gandhi scion said: “people may think I could hate him, but I just feel love.”