Kolkata, Jan 28: Senior Congress leaders should now act as "mentors and not tormentors" and the party should ensure that young leaders take over the reins before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, party leader Jairam Ramesh has said.
He said the Gujarat Assembly poll results was an indication that the party was making a comeback and observed that Rahul Gandhi is a "full-time politician" post-Gujarat. "The old people in the Congress should now act as mentors and not tormentors. These are the people who can advice, guide. They have seen the world and have a role in Parliament, but you have to get younger people too..." he told PTI in an interview.
The former Union environment minister was here to attend the Tata Steel Kolkata Literary meet. Asked if senior leaders in the party should bow out before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, he said, "There are young leaders like Sachin Pilot, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Gaurav Gogoi, Sushmita Dev, we should project them."
Lauding the performance of his party in the Gujarat assembly elections, Ramesh said the results were a sign that the party is making a comeback. "We have made a big comeback in Gujarat with 41 per cent votes. Gujarat has been the first sign of revival and there is no doubt about it. The party should have formed government in Goa and Manipur too. We could not win the polls due to under- the-table dealings of the BJP," Ramesh said.
"Rahul Gandhi, post Gujarat, is dramatically different from Rahul Gandhi pre-Gujarat. He is now a full time politician," Ramesh said. "The fact that Prime Minister Modi had to spend so much time in Gujarat was an indication that they were nervous and stopping them at 99 seats, when the BJP was targeting 150, was a big morale booster," he said. The BJP had won 99 seats in the 182-member Assembly, its tally dipping from 115 in the last elections.
"Rahul Gandhi's campaign was good, the organisational campaign was good. I expect the party to do well in Karnataka assembly polls. I also don't see any reason why we cannot form government in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (where assembly polls are due this year)," he asserted.
Observing that the Congress is facing leaders like Modi and Amit Shah, who have "killer instincts", he said the Congress needs to deal with them in the language they understand. "The BJP led by Atal Bihari Vajpayee is totally different from the BJP led by Modi and Amit Shah.
Both Modi and Shah are hitting at the very root of our culture and society," he charged. Terming Modi as the "biggest showman the world has ever seen", Ramesh said the substance of Modi's speech is "mostly bogus" but is presented in a very convincing manner. "In 2014 the superior campaigner won, but the superior human being lost. Rahul Gandhi, any day, is a finer human being than Modi," he asserted.
The former Union minister feels the Congress is yet to learn to act as an opposition party in Parliament as the party had been in power for many years, he said. "The Congress has been in power for many years at the Centre. Being in opposition is different... Being in the opposition means we have to be more nimble-footed, we have to be more visible on streets. We have to learn to be in the opposition to hold the government accountable. We have to be more aggressive," he said.
Admitting that the Congress had faced a "serious crisis" after the 2014 Union elections, he said the party should try to bring together all secular and progressive forces, this time, to counter the BJP.