New Delhi: Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi believes that apart from providing employment, better infrastructure and security, it is necessary that everyone in this country should have a home to live, adequate food to eat and social harmony in the society for the betterment of the society as a whole.
In an exclusive interview to Dainik Bhaskar, Rahul says he entered into politics to fulfil his dreams of employment, home and security for every person of this country. The Congress scion wants to establish a system in which everyone gets opportunity according to their abilities.
He is focusing on a long-term vision where every Indian gets equal freedom, respect and opportunity. A country where there is no discrimination against girls.
In his first ever interview to any daily newspaper, Rahul Gandhi speaks to Kalpesh Yagnik, National Editor of Dainik Bhaskar Group.
Kalpesh: Would you accept the responsibilities of Prime Ministerial post?
Rahul: We are a democratic alliance and we believe in democracy. The people of this country would choose their prime minister according to their mandate in the Lok Sabha elections. In the national interest, it is necessary that Congress forms the government at the Centre; and in this direction whatever responsibilities the organisation has given me, I will discharge them with utmost sincerity and honesty.
Kalpesh: It is said Congress has failed on many fronts especially when it comes ground connect with people. Congress MPs and MLAs don’t visit constituency and meet common people?
Rahul: No, it’s not like that. It is being generalised. There is no dearth of experienced leaders in Congress. Our leaders are very well connected with common people. I don’t agree that our MPs and MLAs don’t visit constituencies. In fact, we are working toward involving the youth in politics. In this direction, we have worked heavily last year and we plan to continue the exercise in future also.
Rahul: Congress is a strong and progressive organisation which has changed the nature and role of politics in the country and we aim to continue the trend. The Aam Aadmi Party has also worked toward this direction, but we are two different entities with different ideology and different style of working. I don’t agree with many of their recent decisions because our decisions should not be based on short-term gain; instead the decisions should be made while keeping long-term benefit and a secure future for the people.
India has witnessed Samrat Ashok, Akbar and Aurangzeb. Ashok is famous for integrating people; Akbar too worked in this direction and this is why people take their name with great respect. However, Aurangzeb is known for other reasons. On the same lines, Congress is working toward national integration and inclusive growth for everyone.
Kalpesh: What is your opinion on BJP’s demand for Congress-free ‘Bharat’ and rising popularity of Narendra Modi?
Rahul: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) wants to form a ‘one-man centric’ (Narendra Modi) government at the Centre which is not good in the national interest. The government should not function according to the whims and fancy of a single person. The future of over 120 crore people can be safeguarded with inclusive politics only. The Congress lives in this country’s DNA. BJP’s demand of Congress-free ‘Bharat’ is a vague idea. The BJP seems to have forgotten that Congress alone is a political force which has preserved the social fabric of this country.
Kalpesh: What role will Priyanka Gandhi play in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections? Will she contest election?
Rahul: Apart from being my sister and a dear friend, Priyanka is also an active worker of the Congress. And for these reasons alone, she is helping us in making the organisation a strong and trusted political force. I don’t think she would take any other role in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Kalpesh: Don’t you think manifesto should include things which the public want?
Rahul: You haven’t asked this but I would like to emphasise on the education system of ‘Bharat’ which has potential. But we need to make it operational. Currently, it doesn’t seem to cater to the needs of over 15 crore people. In the last ten years, it was Congress’ endeavour to send as many children to schools as possible. Our next aims include educating and empowering the teachers, providing employment opportunities to unemployed. We have planned big infrastructure in this country where highways and corridors are being developed. Delhi-Mumbai corridor and Bengaluru-Chennai corridors are being developed on the same lines. We want to function in a way where every section of the society gets opportunity and benefit.
Kalpesh: Are you 100 percent sure that Congress-UPA alliance will emerge victorious in 2014 Lok Sabha elections?
Rahul: In the last ten years we have taken landmark decisions including MGNREGA, Right to Education Bill and Land Acquisition Bill. The Congress is committed to empowering people with more rights and opportunities. We gave the Right to Information, Right to Food, Right to Forest and Right to Identity – Aadhar etc. The UPA government will be known as a government that empowered the people of this country.
Like I said Congress is generally underestimated before each election including 2004 and 2009 elections. However, the results were completely different. I expect the 2014 elections to be more exciting and I believe we will emerge victorious again.
Kalpesh: It is said that you abstain from accepting responsibilities. Are you reluctant?
Rahul: In our organisation, decisions are always made by senior politicians. In the past also, such kind of decisions have been made by seniors.
Kalpesh: But I am not talking about as to who makes the decision. My question is about your being reluctant in taking responsibilities; as if power is poison. Don’t you want to be responsible?
Rahul: ‘Power is poison’ doesn’t mean that I am not ready to take responsibilities. There is no such word as ‘reluctance’ in my life. ‘Power is poison’ is an observation which means danger and risks come along with power. We should not chase power for the attributes of power. We should only use it to empower the voices.
Kalpesh: But my question is very direct. Are willing to accept the ‘responsibility’ (to become Prime Minister) or would you reluctantly say ‘yes’? I will consider. I will think over it. What do you say?
Rahul: See my family has never been ambitious or greedy about power. Not even my dad (Rajiv Gandhi) or my grandmother (Indira Gandhi).
Kalpesh: No no. I am not talking about power.
Rahul: See I am an active worker of the Congress party. I will follow whatever orders the party ask me to follow. I will do whatever the Congress Party wants me to do. I am only concerned about why the entire argument comes to standstill over the issue of a ‘post’. Why is it being debated on the national level? Why don’t people debate about steps to clean politics? No one is willing to talk about how we can clean up the dirt in politics.
Kalpesh: People now want specific declaration. Direct declaration. Then why Congress is not specific?
Rahul: Congress has never been specific. I have fulfilled the task I was assigned by the Congress. In future also, I wish to continue like this.
As far as ‘power’ is concerned, I would like to mention the words by Mahatma Gandhi. He had said think of the last person when you think of power. But unfortunately, we tend to forget the last man once we are in power.
Kalpesh: Why the Congress is diminishing? Are you happy with its performance?
Rahul: I have never claimed things are perfect within our organisation. There are some areas where we need to work hard. I have informed the party about it and we will come out with a plan.
Kalpesh: How would you ask ‘common people’ who they plan to see as their representatives?
Rahul: Congress Party is striving hard to bring real democracy in the country. We are including common people in our party and organisation. You must have seen how we have introduced our party manifesto in which even a common man can say, “Brother I want this to be included in your manifesto.”
Kalpesh: What according to you is the reason that the alliance is breaking?
Rahul: It is untrue that allies are distancing themselves from Congress. We are still discussing about it. We have got allies in Jammu & Kashmir and Maharashtra. Earlier we didn’t have ally in Bihar, but this time around we may have one.
Kalpesh: If you enter into an alliance with Lalu Yadav in Bihar, you will danger your position on corruption. Why would Congress do this?
Rahul Gandhi: Party seniors are holding discussions about it. Congress’ Alliance Committee makes the decision about new allies and I respect their decisions.
Kalpesh: Your hobbies?
Rahul: I love swimming and running. I do meditation and aikido - Japanese martial art. I think physical fitness is very necessary for mental fitness. Technology also interests me. As my father (Rajiv Gandhi) was pilot, I too am a pilot with licence.