HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Modi a ‘challenger’ Cong can’t ignore, admits PC

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Bambolim, Goa, November 10, 2013
First Published: 14:54 IST(10/11/2013) | Last Updated: 23:54 IST(10/11/2013)

Finance minister P Chidambaram on Sunday acknowledged the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as a “challenger” the Congress “can’t ignore”.

“As a political party, we acknowledge that he is a challenger. We cannot ignore him. He is a candidate fielded by the principal opposition party. We have to take note of him,” he said at the THiNK festival here.

However, the minister also expressed concern about Modi’s opacity. “As an individual, I am very concerned about his ideology, philosophy, the kind of language he uses. So far, he has been very opaque, he has not spoken on any major issues facing the country... His promises have not been backed by any detailed plans.”

Chidambaram conceded that Rahul Gandhi — widely seen as the Congress’ potential prime ministerial candidate — has himself not spoken on a spectrum of issues. “If I were advising him, I would tell him to spell out his views on several issues in detail,” he said.

The minister also admitted that the Congress was in a less than ideal place ahead of the 2014 general elections — the economic slowdown, inflation and allegations of corruption having contributed to the gloom. “Yes, I can see the vote is at the moment negative. I’d be blind if I didn’t see that.”

But he added: “I believe that if we do the right things and remain patient, we will climb back. We have made mistakes, the external environment has not been friendly, but I am not pessimistic.”

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