Breaking his silence on the coming Congress presidential election and reports that he is not keen to contest, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Friday said he does not see any “contradiction” between not heading the Congress party and yet leading – or “participating” in his words — the Bharat Jodo Yatra. He said he has clearly decided what he is going to do and asserted “there is no confusion in my mind at all”.
“Where is the contradiction? To put it in perspective, the Congress party has decided to do a padyatra across the country. I am a member of the Congress party and as a member of the Congress party and a person who agrees with the ideology of the Congress party, I am participating in this Yatra. I don’t see any contradiction in my participation in this Yatra,” he told reporters here.
Senior leaders in the party said his remarks were a clear indication that he will not contest.
Asked why he doesn’t want to contest, Rahul said: “See, whether I become the president or don’t become president, this will become very clear when the presidential election takes place in the Congress. It will become clear. So wait till that time… you will see. And if I don’t stand, then you can ask why you didn’t stand and then I will answer the question… There will be clarity when the Congress president election takes place. I have made my decisions very clear.”
In a free-wheeling chat with reporters on Day 2 of the Bharat Jodo Yatra, Rahul added: “When the president’s election takes place… your questions will be answered. You said I have not decided. I have very clearly decided in my mind what I am going to do. There is no confusion in my mind at all.”
On why he was not dealing with the internal differences in the party, he said: “Why don’t I convince them (those who are leaving the party)? Obviously the BJP has better means of putting pressure on them than I do… More seriously, the BJP has taken control of all the institutions of this country. They have inserted their people in most of the institutions. They pressure through these institutions. You know the role of the CBI, ED and Income Tax department. You know how they deal with these things. So we are not fighting a political party anymore. We used to fight a political party, but now the fight is not between one political party and another political party. Now the fight is between the structure of the Indian State and the Opposition.”
Set to walk across 12 states, covering 3,570 km over a period of 150 days, Rahul said: “Everybody understands this is not an easy fight… The media is not with the Opposition… not because you don’t want to be, but you are under pressure. Your owners have particular relationships. So this is not an easy fight. So a lot of people don’t want to fight. Lot of people feel kahan phas gaya hai yeh (where has one got stuck)… It’s easier to make peace with the BJP, fold hands in front of them, and your life will be easier. Unfortunately, that is not my training. This is not my character. So my character is to fight for a certain idea of India, certain notions of this country and there are many people in the Congress and in the Opposition who are convinced of this fact.”
Rahul said the Yatra would also be a personal experience for him as he will be able to gain “some understanding about myself and some understanding about this difficult country”. “I think… four months later, I will be a little wiser.”
Elaborating, the Congress leader said: “This Yatra has a Congress party political element to it. And it has to (be) because it is a Congress party yatra. But I agreed to join this yatra partially because I believe in the ideals of the Congress party and I believe it is important that those ideals are spread in the country and partially because I thought that this would be a very good experience for me personally,” he said.
“I think it is a powerful thing to do not just from the political standpoint but from a personal standpoint. It is not an easy thing to do. I thought it would be worthwhile to do it from a personal journey perspective. For me, it is both these things. Of course, these days in politics, that is not fashionable. So it is a different way of thinking about things and a different way of looking at things. But hopefully I will get some understanding about myself.”
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Manoj C.GManoj C G is an Associate Editor. He writes on politics. He has worked… read more