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Lok Sabha polls: Who will be INDIA bloc’s PM face? Here’s what Rahul Gandhi said

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Friday said the INDIA bloc has decided that its prime ministerial face will be decided by the alliance constituents jointly after it wins the polls and exuded confidence that the NDA's 2024 campaign will meet the same fate as that of 'India Shining' in 2004.

The former Congress chief said the Lok Sabha polls are between forces who are trying to "destroy" the Constitution and democracy in the country and those protecting them.

Speaking at the Congress manifesto launch programme, Gandhi said it is a much closer contest than what is propagated by the media, and expressed confidence of winning the polls.

Responding to a question after the release of the party manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls, he said, "This election is about those who want to destroy the Constitution and democracy in the country versus those who want to protect the Constitution and democracy."

"We do believe that it is very important once this fight is won that we look after the interests of the vast majority of our people, that India is not run for two or three large conglomerates but is run for the vast majority of the people, that we are not a nation of monopolies, we are a nation where there is fair competition among businesses," he said.

Asked about who will be the prime ministerial face, Gandhi said, "INDIA bloc has decided that we are together fighting an ideological election, after winning the election, who will be the leader, the PM, the whole coalition will jointly decide."

To a question on the outcome of the polls, Gandhi said unlike many political commentators he cannot predict the future but expressed confidence that this is a "much closer" election than what is being propagated by the media.

"It is a close election and we are going to fight an excellent election and we are going to win the election," Gandhi asserted.

He said there was a similar feeling being generated by the press when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the prime minister in 2004 when there was the India Shining campaign.

"So, we have a similar idea being propagated, India Shining, with two-three new dimensions, with full support by the monopolists of the country. But do remember what happened to the India Shining campaign and do remember who won that campaign," Gandhi asserted.

The NDA had lost the polls and the UPA government was sworn in.

Gandhi said it is important to understand that this is a fundamentally different election as democracy and Constitution have not been as much at risk as it is today.

In response to another question, he said one must understand that what is happening in India's political structure.

"We have to understand what is the foundation of the strategy prepared by the RSS and the BJP and particularly Narendra Modi. Like Narendra Modi has given a monopoly to (Billionaire Gautam) Adani in ports, infrastructure and defence, he has also built a monopoly of political finance by using the Enforcement Directorate, CBI and Income Tax department," he said.

"If you look at the electoral bond scheme, it is clear that Narendra Modi and the BJP have raised political funding through extortion, threats, pressure. (Congress president Mallikarjun) Kharge ji said all those who are corrupt are going to the BJP, there is a reason for that because Narendra Modi wants that political finance is in their hands," Gandhi said.

The Congress's bank accounts were frozen and it was left with its original path which was to go to the people, he said.

The party's manifesto is not prepared by the Congress but by the people of India and "we have just written it down", he said, adding that the document is just the "voice of India".

"What is happening in politics is clear, Narendra Modi, by capturing the ED, CBI and Income tax, is creating a monopoly over political finance...all this information, the whole blueprint is in the electoral bonds, so Narendra Modi has given a charge sheet (to the opposition) through electoral bonds, that is why he is feeling terrorised and that is why the number has come 400 plus. They are taking away our leaders from Maharashtra, Haryana, because they feel that if '400 paar' does not happen and it is 180-160-140 then their ship will sink," he said.

Asked about what challenge was Modi posing as compared to 2019, Gandhi referred to alleged "capture of institutions" and said it started in 2019 and had reached its peak.

"They (BJP) have all the institutions in their grasp, they have monopoly over political finance. The CBI, Income Tax Department, ED, EC all of them are in BJP's control. As I had said in my speech, the cricket match is a rigged match, cricket match is not a fair match -- be it social media, my YouTube , my Facebook... the whole structure is controlled and rigged," he alleged.

Therefore, it is necessary that people understand that this is not a normal election but one to save the Constitution and democracy, Gandhi said, adding that it is important to fight and win this.

"This election is between 2-5 per cent and the rest of India. What the India wants is in the manifesto," he said.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha polls will begin on April 19 and end on June 1. Results will be declared on June 4.

The manifesto, titled 'Nyay Patra', was released at the AICC headquarters in the presence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and former party chief Sonia Gandhi. It focused on five 'pillars of justice' and 25 guarantees under them.

Source : DNA India