Putting to rest all speculation, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi Saturday said the party will not support the Third Front to form the next government.
Speaking to reporters after campaigning in his constituency of Amethi, Rahul said the party will get enough seats to form the government on their own. "We will not support a Third Front… we will get the numbers," Rahul said after being asked whether the party would sit in opposition.
HT was the first to report that Rahul was strongly in favour of sitting in the opposition and rebuilding the organisation rather than forming a government with the help of multiple parties.
Claiming Rahul’s move to be mere damage control, PTI quoted BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi as saying: "They thought even if we lose, we will help third front. Several Congress leaders made such statements. When they realised that it was damaging them, then Rahul ‘bhaiyya’ tried to change it. They are shaken."
Reacting to Modi’s plan to campaign in Amethi on Monday, Rahul said "anyone was free to campaign anywhere". Rahul, however, did not clarify whether he was planning to go to Varanasi to campaign. Amethi goes to polls on May 7 and Varanasi on May 12.
On Priyanka donning a bigger role — she held closed door meetings with party workers to finalise poll strategy for May 7 — Rahul said he would support her in whatever she does.
Addressing a rally in his constituency Amethi, Gandhi also asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime ministerial nominee Modi to come clean on the source of funds.
"They (BJP) do politics of two-three corporates as they gift them 'mota paisa' (hefty money). From where is the money for big cutouts and posters coming," Gandhi said in the Congress bastion.
Read: Modi to hold rally in Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi on May 5; will Congress return the favour?
The BJP's mega campaign has triggered a big debate in this election season, with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal blaming the saffron brigade for taking the help of big industrialists.
Rahul alleged that Modi gave nearly Rs. 26,000 crore of electricity and Rs. 15,000 crore of land to one industrialist which is much more than Rs. 30,000 crore that Congress gave to poor through rural job scheme MNREGA in a year.
"Please ask BJP where they get crores of rupees for such posters. Is it Modi's money? They ask us why we give free money to poor through MNREGA, food guarantee scheme. Poor does not get free money. They work for it whereas free funds are given to Adani," he said.
Amid a big talk over Modi's links with the Adani Group, Gautam Adani, head of the Rs. 45,000-crore ports-to-energy establishment, had recently told the media that he got no special favours from the Gujarat government led by Modi.
Asking the BJP to follow rules, Gandhi added, "I am not against corporates. But they should be given facilities following rules and regulations. In Gujarat, it was Adani who is getting facilities and not the poor."
Kejriwal, after his recent visit to Gujarat, had levelled similar allegations against Modi.
Describing the elections as a fight between two ideologies, Gandhi said that while Congress wanted to take Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs and Christians along, the other side was stoking politics of "anger".
"Their (BJP) leaders used to criticise, abuse and keep poor at bay while we (Congress) talk of unity and to take country forward," Gandhi said.
"The difference is that they want to keep the ATM with themselves, while we want to give the ATM to the poor", he added.
"They want to create a divide between Hindus and Muslims and want to see them fighting. They want brother to fight against brother," he said.
Read: Modi represents RSS ideology: Rahul Gandhi
Hitting out at his opponents — Aam Aadmi Party's Kumar Vishwas and BJP's Smriti Irani, Gandhi said they would run away from Amethi after elections.
Without taking the names of rival candidates, he said the people who come from outside are angry at the relations that Gandhi family shares with the people of Amethi.
"Let Congress form the government at the Centre, I will show them what can be done in Amethi....People who come from outside can say whatever they like but Gandhi family shares a relation of love with people of Amethi. They will not be seen once elections are over," he said.
"Those who are contesting (against me) will run away after election. I have family relations with Amethi. I came here at the age of 12 years with my father (Rajiv Gandhi). I don't have political relation with this place," Gandhi said.
Amethi parliamentary seat will go to polls next Wednesday and the campaigning will come to an end on Monday, when Modi is scheduled to campaign for Irani, breaking the unsaid rule of keeping off a political rival's turf.
(With inputs from PTI)