Congress Vice president and poll campaign chief Rahul Gandhi opens up in an interview with Times Now Editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami. For the first time after his political debut in 2004, Rahul Gandhi takes direct questions on wide range of subjects on Frankly Speaking with Arnab.
Here is the part 1 of full transcript of the 1 hour 20 minute long interview:
Arnab: Rahul, Thank you very much. It's great to have you on Frankly Speaking show today. It's been 10 years as an MP for you, you fought your first election in 2004 & this is your first TV interview.
Rahul: It's not my first interview, but it's my first formal interview of this type.
Arnab: Why has it taken so long?
Rahul: I have done a little media interaction, prior to this. I have done press conferences & spoken to the media. But mainly bulk of my focus has been on internal party work and that's where I have been concentrating, that is where most of my energy was going.
Arnab: Or is that you have been reluctant to communicate more on one to one basis?
Rahul: Not at all, I have had many many press conferences that you have seen. I don't have that issue.
Arnab: It's not that you wanted to avoid touching on difficult or tough issues
Rahul: I like difficult to tough issues, I like dealing with them.
Arnab: Now that this is your first detailed & long interview in 10 years, we have a lot of ground to cover. I have one request to you right at the start of the interview, let's be as specific as possible on the subjects we deal with today. Do I have your Agreement on that?
Rahul: Yes, we will be specific but if I would like to sort of explain things in a broader fashion, I think that will okay with you.
Arnab: If I want to draw you back into specifics?
Rahul: You can draw me back as much as you want
Arnab: Rahul Gandhi the first point is this; you have just avoided this whole question about whether you are open to PM's post. It seems to me Rahul that you are avoiding a difficult contest.
Rahul: See, if you look at the speech I gave at AICC a few days back. The issue is basically how the Prime Minister in this country is chosen. The way the Prime Minister is chosen in this country is through the MPs. Our system chooses MPs & MPs elect Prime Minister. I said pretty clearly in my speech in AICC, that if the Congress party so chooses & Congress party wants me to do anything for them, I am happy to do that. It's respect for the process. In fact announcing your PM prior to an election, announcing your PM without asking the members of Parliament, is not actually written in the constitution.
Arnab: You did that in 2009?
Rahul: No, we didn't
Arnab: Of course you did?
Rahul: What we did in 2009 was that we had an incumbent Prime Minister. Prime Minister won the election, he then went to Parliament. The members of Parliament decided that, that Prime Minister will continue, and there was actually a process where he was asked.
Arnab: But you named your Prime Ministerial candidate?
Rahul: We had an incumbent Prime Minister and there was no question of our changing him.
Arnab: See Rahul we can go up and down on this question. The fact of the matter is this, who else will they choose, and who else will Congress MPs choose if not Rahul Gandhi?
Rahul: That is up to them right, but what one has to do and this is central to what I keep saying is that democracy is about respect of processes. Democracy is about non-arbitrary decisions. Democracy is about spreading decisions; it is not about destroying processes. There is a process in the constitution and that process says, and it is clearly written in the constitution, and it says members of parliament are to be elected by the population and members of parliament are to elect the Prime Minister. All I am doing is respecting that process.
Arnab: Are you avoiding a direct face-off with Narendra Modi? Is there a fear of loss Rahul because this election is not looking good for the Congress party from overall estimates? And the growing belief is that if Rahul Gandhi has not picked up the challenge officially that means that there is a fear of loss, he is avoiding a direct one on one battle with Narendra Modi, you must answer that?
Rahul: To understand that question you have to understand a little bit about who Rahul Gandhi is and what Rahul Gandhi's circumstances have been and if you delve into that you will get an answer to the question of what Rahul Gandhi is scared off and what he is not scared off. The real question is what I am doing sitting here, you are a journalist, when you were small you must have said to yourself I want to do something, you decided to become a journalist at some point, why did you do that?
Arnab: You are asking me the question
Rahul: Yes, I am asking you a question, it is a conversation
Arnab: Because I like and enjoy being a journalist, it is a professional challenge for me. My question is you avoiding a direct face-off with Mr. Narendra Modi?
Rahul: I am going to answer the question but I just want to ask you, when you were young and thought of being a journalist what drove you?
Arnab: Once I decided to become a journalist, I can't be half a journalist. Once you have decided to get into politics and you are leading your party effectively, you can't be leading your party by half, so I'll throw the question, with respect, back to you, Narendra Modi is challenging you on a daily basis?
Rahul: You are not answering my question, but I will answer the question and that will give you some insight into how Rahul Gandhi thinks. For that I will have to expand a little bit about my growing up, how I grew up and the circumstances in which I grew up. What I saw when I was a child ,was my father, who was a pilot, and because of circumstances was thrown into the political system and all I saw when was small after my grandmother died was my father in constant-constant combat with the system in India and then I saw him die actually.
In my life I have seen my grandmother die, I have seen my father die, I have seen my grandmother go to jail and I have actually been through a tremendous amount of pain as a child when these things happen to you, what I had to scared off I lost, there is absolutely nothing I am scared off. I have an aim, I have a clear aim in my mind and the aim is that I do not like what I see in Indian politics, it is something that is inside my heart. It is like in our mythology when they talk about Arjun, he only sees one thing, he does not see anything else, you asked me about Mr. Modi you ask me about anything and the thing that I see is that the system in this country needs to change, I don't see anything else and I am blind to everything else. I am blind because I saw people I love destroyed by the system.
I am blind because the system everyday is unfair to our people, I ask you today, you come from Assam and I am sure that you also in your work feel the unfairness of the system. The system everyday-everyday hurts people and I have felt the pain that the system can cause. I felt the pain with my father, I saw him every single day of his life, so the question of whether I am afraid of losing an election or whether I am afraid of Mr. Modi is not actually the point. I am here basically for one thing, I see tremendous energy in this country, I see more energy in this country than any other country, I see billions of youngsters and I see this energy is trapped…
Read: Full text of Rahul Gandhi's interview - part 2
Read: Full text of Rahul Gandhi's interview - part 3
Read: Full text of Rahul Gandhi's interview - part 4