Rahul signals, but no clear answer yet on Cong chief post, says ‘don’t distract from Yatra’

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Signalling that he is not contesting the party president post, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said whoever becomes the chief should remember that he “represents a set of ideas, a belief system and a vision of India”.

At a press conference in Kochi, he, however, refused to clarify whether he would contest the party election. Questions on whether he is a candidate or not are, he said, “aimed at distracting attention from the Bharat Jodo Yatra”.

Asked about the advice he would give the Congress presidential hopefuls, he said, “One piece of advice. That you are taking on a position…it is a historic position and it is a position that defines and has defined a particular view of India. The Congress president is not just an organisational post. The Congress president is an ideological post. It is a belief system. So my advice would be that whoever becomes the Congress president should remember that he represents a set of ideas, a belief system and a vision of India,” he said.

About the split the party suffered in Goa as the yatra had begun, he said, “We are fighting a machine that has captured the institutional framework of this country, a machine that has unlimited money, that has unlimited ability to pressurise people, buy people, threaten people and the outcome of that is what you have seen in Goa.”

On the yatra spending just a few days in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh, he said, “The yatra is a yatra that goes from one point of India to another point of India. That is the idea. That is the way we have designed it. We are not going to Bihar, West Bengal and Gujarat.”

He said it was impossible to walk 10,000km and cover every state. But the party has a clear view on what is to be done in Uttar Pradesh, he added.

Gandhi said a contest for the Congress president post was a good thing. “I think any Congress worker, Congress leader who wants to fight the Congress election has the right to fight a Congress election. So, I think it is not a big thing. It is a good thing.”

“I would like to point out one thing…it is interesting to me that everybody asks the question about when the Congress party election is going to take place…who is going to fight the Congress party election, but you do not do this about any other political party in the country. You do not ask this question about the BJP. You do not ask this question about the RSS. You do not ask this question about the communists. You do not ask this question about the Samajwadis, about the BSP..you don’t ask this question. And I am saying this with a significant amount of pride because we are the only political party in the country that does this.”

Asked whether all the Opposition parties should come together on a common platform, he said, “I do think that it is very important that the Opposition parties come together and I think that is required to fight the ideology and the financial power and the institutional power as a result of the capture. So yes, I do think that the Opposition has a discussion and comes out with a strategy.”