VARANASI: Mr Rahul Gandhi on Monday said he was not “obsessed” with becoming the Prime Minister like many political leaders but remained committed to transform Uttar Pradesh where people have been “fooled” for the last 22 years by successive regimes.
At a rare press conference, a combative Mr Rahul sharply criticised Mr L K Advani on corruption in Karnataka, Uttarakhand, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Punjab or in the “coffin scam” in the Kargil war even as the BJP leader took out various yatras across the country.
Answering questions on corruption, the 41-year-old Gandhi scion said when he proposed that the Lokpal be given Constitutional status, the opposition laughed at it. But this would happen.
Asked about his sister Ms Priyanka’s comment on Sunday that he was fit to be the Prime Minister, Mr Rahul responded by saying that he was not “obsessed” with the post but was “obsessed with Uttar Pradesh” where he has been campaigning relentlessly during the assembly polls.
He repeatedly maintained that whether Congress gets two seats or 100 or 400 seats in the UP assembly, he would remain committed to the transformation of UP which would take considerable time.
“All the political leaders in India, all the top ones, have an obsession with prime ministership. This is not Rahul Gandhi’s obsession. I have another obsession. I want to correct the way we have been working in this state. I believe it is a monumental crime not to hear the voice of the people…I want to change the fate of the people of UP,” Mr Rahul, who spoke forcefully and was occasionally seen rolling up the sleeves of his white kurta, said.
To drive home his point, Mr Rahul stood up during the press meet, saying, “Once Congress stands (on its feet in the state) after that whatever happens in UP politics, Congress will defend it.”
“You will find Rahul Gandhi in villages, jhuggi-jhompris and among farmers” for this task. He exuded confidence that Congress will get “solid” results in the assembly elections.
He said black flags, shoe or even bullets would not deter him. “Main kisi se nahin darta (I am not afraid of anything,” he said.
Mr Rahul was unsparing in his criticism of BSP chief, Ms Mayawati and Samajwadi Party leader, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav, saying both have distanced themselves from the people and do not want to bring about a change.
He said governments in UP in the last 22 years have only worked for 10 per cent of the population. Parties with “goondas and thieves” came to power one after the other, he said.
“Results for Congress would be solid…People are now looking towards Congress. Wherever I am going people are saying that they have been fooled in the past 22 years,” he said.
To questions on the strategy in case of a hung House, Mr Rahul made it clear Congress would not strike a post-poll pact with any party.
“The strategy is simple that we would have a coalition with the poor and common people not with any party”, he said.
Making a strong pitch for Constitutional status for Lokpal, he said, “Let us make a Lokpal Bill which allows independence, which gives independence and power to Lokpal.”
Attacking the opposition, he said, “Mr Advani and other opposition leaders laughed at me. I saw them with my own eyes sitting there and laughing. This idea is a fundamental, powerful idea of this country and they laughed. You ask them why they did not pass the Lokpal.”
Holding that the opposition leader described it as Mr Rahul’s idea, he said this is in fact “India’s idea”. The Congress leader asserted it was going to happen whether the opposition liked it or not.
Unlike the BJP, “Whenever there has been a problem of corruption in Congress party, any place, any time, we have taken action. We have put ministers in jail,” he said.
He also alleged that the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi is currently fighting to stop appointing a Lokayukta in his state.