In an interaction at the Berkeley University in the US in September last year, Gandhi had said he was "absolutely ready" to be the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress in the 2019 general elections.
For the second time in nine months, Congress president Rahul Gandhi today spoke about his prime ministerial aspirations, asserting he was ready for the top post, sparking ridicule from the ruling BJP which said he should first try to win state elections. Gandhi said he is ready to occupy the prime ministerial post if the Congress emerges as the “biggest” party in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. “Well, it depends….it depends on how well the Congress does in the election….I mean, if it emerges as the biggest party, yes,” Gandhi said, when asked during an interaction in Bengaluru if he would be the next prime minister after the next Lok Sabha elections. Gandhi, who also said that the opposition unity would not allow the BJP to remain in power, was speaking at a function where he launched ‘Samruddha Bharat Foundation’.
This is not the first time Gandhi has spoken about his prime ministerial ambitions. In an interaction at the Berkeley University in the US in September last year, Gandhi had said he was “absolutely ready” to be the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress in the 2019 general elections. The BJP took potshots at Gandhi over his remarks, saying the Congress president, who is harbouring “lofty dreams” despite his party’s losing spree, should first try to win state elections.
BJP spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said while it is Gandhi’s right to “dream” about becoming the prime minister, even Congress’ allies were not accepting him as their leader. He reminded Gandhi that after he became Congress vice president, “his party lost 13 states and after he took over as party president, it has lost five states and Karnataka will be the sixth one”. “Look at the irony, Congress is losing state after state ever since Gandhi took over as party’s vice president and then party chief. But he is dreaming to become the prime minister. Even Congress’ allies are not accepting him as their leader,” Hussain told reporters in Delhi.
The Sharad Pawar-led NCP said there was nothing wrong in Gandhi’s statement aspiring to become the prime minister. “If people decide to entrust the Congress with the job of ruling the country, he (Rahul Gandhi) will be the prime ministerial candidate,” NCP national spokesman Nawab Malik said in Mumbai. Amid the cut and thrust of the Karnataka Assembly polls, Gandhi said he is “pretty confident” that Narendra Modi would not be the next prime minister, and if the Congress acts as a “platform” (with other parties in a coalition), the BJP does not stand a chance of winning the elections. “It is highly unlikely that BJP will form the next government, and the second part is that it is close to impossible that Modi will be the next prime minister,” Gandhi said.
But Shahnawaz Hussain emphasised that the country will once again elect Narendra Modi as their prime minister. “Aakhir dil ki baat zubaan par aa hi gayi (Finally what was in his heart has come out,” Hussain said on Gandhi’s ambitions. “It is good to see that he has such lofty dreams. It is his right. But, to become the prime minister, he has to win some, at least some state elections and make chief ministers of his choice. Under his leadership, the party is not winning any state election and he is dreaming of becoming the prime minister,” he added.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also made light of Gandhi’s remarks. “Nobody can become a prime minister just because the person says so, it is the people who decide who will be the prime minister,” Fadnavis told reporters in Mumbai while responding to a query on the comments made by Gandhi.