Putting to rest any thought of a last-minute sign of nerves, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi gave the clearest indication that he was not averse to being pitched as his party’s prime ministerial candidate.
In an interview to a daily, Rahul said he wouldn’t shirk any responsibility that the party assigns to him. He dispelled any doubt ahead of Friday’s AICC conclave about his willingness to launch himself into a direct face-off with Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal.
Asked about his “power is poison” remark made during the Congress’ Jaipur conclave in January 2013, Rahul shot back: “Power is poison’ doesn’t mean that I am not keen to take responsibility. I don’t have the word ‘reluctance’ in my life.”
Conflicting signals had emanated from party circles as well as the Rahul camp on whether he should be hung out to dry in an election where the Congress rout is widely expected. This was in the backdrop of the AAP cashing in on its spectacular Delhi debut by catching the imagination of voters. This led to speculation that the party old guard’s struggle for retaining relevance against a generational change had something to do with it. Rahul’s interview may even have been a tactic to prevent any move to procrastinate over the issue by the old guard.
By explicitly stating his willingness to don the mantle, Rahul has made it clear that it’s not he who stands in the way of any declaration. He took the opportunity also to take a swipe at Modi. He said the BJP’s idea of good governance was flawed as it was “one-man centric”, which is not good for the country.
On the AAP, he conceded that the newbies have taken some steps that he himself would have liked to take. But at the same time, he said, they had a “different ideology and style of working”.
On Priyanka Gandhi’s future role, the Congress vice-president said that “she was helping out as a sister, dear friend and an active party worker”.