Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi kept hopes alive of him becoming the prime minister in future, but justified the decision of the party not naming him as its nominee for the country’s top job.
“As I have said, I am your loyal soldier. You can make me do whatever you want,” Rahul said at a Congress meeting on Friday, as his supporters shouted slogans.
“If you read India's constitution, it is written the prime minister is chosen by Members of Parliament. We are a democratic party and take democratic decisions,” he said, justifying Congress president and his mother Sonia Gandhi’s decision and taking an apparent dig at Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) move to announce Narendra Modi as its PM candidate.
Seeking to dispel the demoralisation in the wake of recent electoral debacle, he launched an attack on Modi without naming the political opponent. Those dreaming about a Congress-free India will themselves be destroyed, the Congress leader said.
Rahul, in line with his mother’s speech, accused the BJP of lighting fires of communal hatred and setting people against each other.
He also announced a slew of reforms in the party. In a virtual directive, the Congress vice-president asked the government to raise the annual cap of subsidised LPG cylinders from nine to 12, a point that was cheered by the audience.
Rahul started his speech saying it was an honour to address “soldiers” of the Congress and went on to praise the man who had soldiered for the party for the last 10 years — Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. “His leadership over the past decade has brought in great changes and growth in the country.”
Apparently taking a leaf out of Aam Aadmi Party’s strategy, he said tickets for 15 Lok Sabha seats would be given on the basis of feedback from local units and if the experiment works, it would be expanded.
According to Rahul, the party will give tickets for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections only to workers who have “Congress in their blood”.
He added the Congress’ opponents were good in political marketing and can even sell combs to bald people. “And now, the new opponents have even started giving a haircut to bald people!”
Rahul also focussed on issues related to the youth, women, downtrodden sections and a new constituency of people who have risen above the poverty line and are aspiring to be part of the middle class, saying he would fight for their cause.
Senior Congress leaders were all praise for the party vice-president. Union human resource and development minister MM Pallam Raju said Rahul had set the right message. Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath said Rahul’s vision and commitment towards the nation and the party were exceptional.
With PTI, IANS inputs