Rahul Gandhi preparing to take over Congress leadership, says Jairam Ramesh

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New Delhi, Sept 20: Amid speculation over Rahul Gandhi taking charge as Congress chief, senior party leader Jairam Ramesh today said the Congress vice-president is "preparing" to assume the mantle and is cobbling together his team as he does not want to take over as an individual.

"He is conscious of the fact that he is going to take over. He is preparing himself for taking over," Ramesh told news channel Times Now while responding to a question on Rahul taking over Congress leadership.

Rahul Gandhi

"I think he is very clear in his mind as to what his team should be. He does not want to take over as an individual but wants to take over as a team," Ramesh said, adding, "I am still hopeful...he will take over in 2015."

Asked about Emergency and the Congress not tendering an apology for excess committed during Emergency, Ramesh said it was a "mistake" and added that a decision to offer formal apology has to be taken by the party.

"Indira Gandhi accepted excesses were committed during the emergency. People have given answer to Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi in 1977 elections. It is for the party to decide for an apology," he said.

He further said, "Emergency could have been completely avoidable. It was a mistake."

"The greatest damage emergency did to the Indian political system was to mainstream the RSS. RSS emerged as a political force after 1975," he added.

However, he said the biggest blot on Congress was anti-Sikh riots in 1984.

"1984 riot was the biggest blot on Congress. What happened cannot be explained... complete breakdown of system, huge human toll," Ramesh said.

On Congress "ambivalent" relation with late Prime Minister Narasimha Rao, Ramesh said, "Many in Congress believe Rao participated covertly in demolition of Babri Masjid, and the most charitable defence of Rao was that he did not do enough to protect Babri Masjid."

He said the demolition of Babri Masjid proved to be a big disaster for the Congress party.

"What happened in December 1992 left everybody in Congress uncomfortable. One of the fundamental tenets of the party is to protect minorities, and it was dent on the tenets of the party," he said.


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