Ideas that Modi represents are dangerous for India: Rahul Gandhi

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New Delhi, Mar 16: An upbeat Rahul Gandhi on Sunday rejected the view that the Congress party was an "underdog" or that it faced an "uphill" task in the Lok Sabha polls, affirming that there would be a Congress-led UPA III.

Acknowledging that after 10 years in power "there is a certain amount of anti-incumbency against us", the Congress campaign chief, nevertheless, disagreed with senior party leader and Finance Minister P Chidambaram's view that the party was an underdog and faced an uphill task.

"Congress is fighting a challenging election and we will win the election," he said while refusing to hazard a guess about the number of seats the party would get.

"I am not a soothsayer but we will do well," he told PTI in an exclusive interview.

Congress is fighting a challenging election and we will win the election: Rahul

Debunking opinion polls, which he had described as a joke, Gandhi said the party would do better than the 2009 elections when it had won 206 seats.

Predictions before 2004 and 2009 elections also were that the Congress was going to lose and get thrashed, he recalled.

Answering a question on the failure of the government and the party to communicate with the people, he admitted, "I think certainly we could have been more aggressive in conveying our achievements. As I said, we have done transformatory work. We could always be better in communication."

Rubbishing the perception that Congress was losing allies, the party vice president said that it had alliances with NCP, RJD, JMM, RLD and the National Conference but had lost the DMK and the Trinamool Congress.

Asked if the Congress could "do business" with TMC and DMK again, Gandhi replied, "We are always willing to work with people who share our ideology and political philosophy, who are determined to fight sectarian and communal forces that seek to divide India for narrow political gains."

Also Read: AAP not a factor at the national level: Rahul Gandhi

Gandhi did not see Lok Sabha elections as virtually a presidential-style contest between him and Modi and said, "it is a clash between two ideas of India."

He contended that the Congress represented an idea which "respects the liberty and dignity of everyone of our countrymen by upholding the ideals of humanity and inclusion", whereas the BJP wanted an India "in which there is no place for the poor, no place for those with a different religion or ideology.

The Congress leader said that the BJP seeks to "suppress large numbers of India's ideas" and wanted "an India in which power is centralised in the hands of individuals. It is a clash between these two ideas of India." The Gandhi-scion added, "The ideas that Mr Modi represents are dangerous for India."

To a question that people appeared to be disappointed with the lacklustre performance of the UPA government and favoured a strong leader like Modi, he said, "yes, I believe that India needs a 'strong' leader but we must have a deeper understanding of what 'strength' means.

"Strength to me, is not brute force or the ability to bulldoze your way through decision making in an autocratic manner....I do believe that an autocratic mindset that believes in dispensing with whatever is inconvenient to its notions is dangerous because such people tend to disregard what is right for what is expedient."

Asked about Modi's campaign and his language such as him being called a "shezada" (prince), Gandhi said that as far as the language used by political leaders were concerned "it is for the people of the country to judge a politician's language and choice of words".

Lashing out at BJP for its record in dealing with corruption, the Congress leader said that BJP had a Karnataka Chief Minister who went to jail on charges of corruption.

Convicted and charge-sheeted ministers continued to be in the Gujarat cabinet. "Their (BJP's) national president was seen taking money and was convicted.

The record of the Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh governments on corruption is well known. The money and landscams in Karnataka, absence of a functional Lokayukta in Gujarat for over 10 years, the recruitment scam in Madhya Pradesh, and the allotment of land to industry in a completely non-transparent manner--the record is there for all to see," he said.

Asked if he had any radical ideas to eradicate corruption, the Congress leader said that the way to do that was to speed up the judicial process and punish the guilty.

Only by creating an institutional framework to fight corruption can the issue be tackled. He said that Lokpal Bill and The Whistleblowers Protection Bill had been passed and there were 5 remaining legislations that would have completed this framework.

"Since the BJP took the lead in preventing their passage, I would like to ask them to explain their double speak. They manage to lament corruption and at the same time oppose bills that will fight it," Gandhi said.

PTI

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