Modi's elevation 'not my concern', says Rahul

To a question whether Congress would invite JD(U), which appeared to be splitting with BJP, the Congress Vice President said he does not take decisions on inviting parties to join the ruling UPA at the Centre.

Published: 15th June 2013 07:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 15th June 2013 07:16 PM   |  A+A-


In his first comments on developments in BJP, Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said he was not concerned about the elevation of Narendra Modi nor was he going to invite its ally JD(U) to UPA fold.

"It (elevation of Modi) is their (BJP's) internal matter. It is really not my concern. My concern is how the Congress party is doing and how we are doing in different states. What are the different types of action we are taking to benefit the people," he told reporters

He was asked about the elevation of the Gujarat Chief Minister as the Lok Sabha election campaign head by BJP.

To a question whether Congress would invite JD(U), which appeared to be splitting with BJP, the Congress Vice President said he does not take decisions on inviting parties to join the ruling UPA at the Centre.

"These are internal matters of the Congress party.

Frankly, these decisions are not made by me. These decisions are made by senior leaders of the Congress party. So it is not for me to give invitations to anyone," Gandhi said.

His comments came on a day when the Congress party said in Delhi that JD(U) is a like-minded party and can be trusted on secularism. Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das also said that coming together of like-minded parties can happen in future.

Yesterday, Congress had distanced itself from the remarks of Union Minister Jairam Ramesh saying Modi was not a challenge to the Congress but to BJP and NDA.

Asked about the possibility of his being nominated as the prime ministerial candidate, Gandhi said, "That you have to ask the Congress party. I have my job cut out for me."

Gandhi dismissed suggestions that there were differences between Congress and National Conference - the ruling coalition partners in Jammu and Kashmir- but admitted that issues come up from time to time which are dealt with.

"I am quite proud of the work we are doing in Jammu and Kashmir. We are working together, the state government and the central government. Of course, every now and then there are issues which come up which we deal with," he said.

On the possibility of a pre-poll alliance with National Conference in Jammu and Kashmir ahead of next year's Assembly elections, Gandhi said it was a matter to be discussed within the two constituent parties of the alliance.

"These are matters that are not for me to delve into.

These are matters that are decided within their party (NC) and within our party. We have a healthy constructive relationship and we are working together," he said.

The Congress leader said the focus of his party is empowerment of the people. "As far as political aspect is concerned, empowerment of panchayats and ensuring that devolution of powers takes place and the power goes to the local representatives."

The Congress leader said his relationship with Kashmir is not a day's job but lifelong.

"Kashmir is very important to me. I come from Kashmir historically. I would like to see participation of women at local level and I would like to see Kashmir progress possibly as one of the fastest progressing states in the country," he said.

Gandhi was interacting with reporters here after launching 'UMEED' (hope) scheme for women in Jammu and Kashmir.

The scheme envisages a budgetary support of Rs 750 crore from Centre to the one lakh women Self Help Groups (SHGs) in Jammu and Kashmir for eradication of poverty in the state.

Gandhi said the initiative to launch the scheme in the state came during his interaction with students of Kashmir University last year.

"Last year, I came to Kashmir university. I had a detailed discussions with students there in three different directions

women empowerment, employment opportunities and local bodies," he said.

Gandhi said a team of students visited Amethi, the constituency represented by him in Lok Sabha, where they studied the women SHG model.

He said the feedback given to him by the team was positive and he took up the matter with Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh.

"UMEED is a self help group concept under which nearly one lakh self help groups will be formed involving around nine lakh women. Every group will get a loan of around Rs one lakh over the next five years for entrepreneurship," he said.

On empowerment of local bodies, Gandhi said he has discussed with Ramesh the issue of providing untied funds to the panchayats in Jammu and Kashmir for carrying out development works.


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