Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s strong public criticism of the now withdrawn ordinance protecting convicted MPs/MLAs may have embarrassed the government but has electrified the party, according to rural development minister Jairam Ramesh.
“What Rahul did was inevitable. It was a dramatic gesture since the government had failed to effectively communicate on the need for the ordinance and our nuanced argument got lost in media headlines,” Ramesh, the newly appointed coordinator of the party’s special group for the 2014 elections, said at an interaction with HT editors.
Ruling out next year's Lok Sabha polls as a clash between BJP PM candidate Narendra Modi and Gandhi, Ramesh said the Congress strategy would be party-specific and would not focus on an individual like the BJP.
Defending Gandhi’s non-aggressive style of public speaking, Ramesh said the young Congress leader should continue to be “his own self and should be judged by the media in totality and not by selectively focusing on a particular bit of his speeches.”
On the question of Congress shying away from projecting Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate, Ramesh replied: “If we have a majority on our own, he will be our prime minister. Where is the need to announce him as the candidate?”
Ramesh, however, conceded that “it would be difficult for the Congress and impossible for the BJP” to get a majority on their own.
“The figure of over 200 seats will be a decent enough mark for us to be in the driver’s seat,” he said.
“Since 1991 there have been coalition governments in the country at the centre. I cannot discount this reality,” Ramesh said.