Congress presidential candidate Mallikarjun Kharge, said to be a Gandhi family nominee, on Thursday strongly pitched for the role of Gandhis in the party. In a free-wheeling interview with The Daily Guardian, Kharge said it is absolutely necessary to be with them and there is no question of ignoring them even in future. Here is an excerpt:
TDG Reporter: How do you see the role of Gandhi family in the party? Rahul Gandhi is in Bharat Jodo Yatra and refused to fight the presidential polls. If you become the president, then how do you view Rahul Gandhi’s role in the party?
A: Please don’t separate the Gandhis from Congress. They are a part of it. They have given a lot to the party. They made the governments. Rahul Gandhi worked hard to bring 6 governments in states during his tenures. The sacrifices they made by making others the chief ministers and prime ministers. Sonia Gandhi did this thing. I have great respect for the family. They have made so much of sacrifices throughout their life. We should work with such politicians. They always stay with the organisation and their method of working of uniting people is well-known among people.
TDG reporter: As far as 2024 elections are concerned many people have emphasised on unity of opposition. Leaders have said it too such as Pawar, Nitish, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav have said so. So this will be the role of Congress to ensure that all the opposition parties move together.
A: After party’s elections, what can be the strategy for the upcoming elections, who can work with whom, I don’t know. But our efforts will be focussed on moving with everyone together and create a strong Opposition which can fight BJP and RSS. To unite such Opposition, it is our intention from very early. That’s what I did when I was on the floor of Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Through this only we have fought against inflation, unemployment, petrol and diesel and farmer’s issues. We fought on these issues together. So in future too.
Today the government especially the BJP which works on the ideology of RSS is working to crush political parties, especially those who are politically active and those who don’t want to work as per their ideology, BJP is finishing them. They scare them by registering economic offences cases against them, or register any other case against them by finding any miscellaneous cause. By doing this they have created their government in 6 states. Did the people support them? Despite not having anyone’s support they came to power by indulging in horse trading. When they didn’t get majority in Rajya Sabha they warned MPs and garnered their support. These people don’t believe in democracy and that’s why we have to unite and fight them.
TDG Reporter: Earlier it used to be that you first fight elections then choose the winner, but today in the era of social media when people are more literate, they are more interested in knowing that who will be our representatives. And if you are uniting the opposition then people would ask that who will be the face?
A: We have to fight the elections together. As per our party’s Constitution whoever has the majority among our parliamentary leaders and MPs becomes the leader. This we will discuss in future in 2024. Right now I want to talk about the organisation. If we stay strong together as opposition, then we talk about the polls. And how much support we will get, rest of the process will be done according to that.
TDG Reporter: The BJP has put a big allegation against you that you who was loyal to the family, a rubber stamp was chosen to fight the nomination.
A: Things like rubber stamps, work in their party. And we have seen how they choose people. People who work in their party are getting cornered including the senior leaders. When it is about to happen they don’t consider the age factor, when it’s not they put them for ‘margdarshan’ and when it again happens they bring them out of this box. So we don’t need to take ‘margdarshan’ from such people. We don’t need to be scared of their criticisms. We have relevance, we have worked for the country, its independence, its unity, its constitution, we saved the democracy. But still they say that I am a rubber stamp, a remote control. First you look at your party then talk to others.
TDG Reporter: On the day you filed your nomination papers, the supporters who were with you made it clear that who is going to win the election, then what’s the need of the campaign?
A: No matter what, campaigning is important. Delegates want you to do campaign. I am a candidate with the support of delegates and senior leaders. So it’s my duty to visit them in their states and talk to them. There are chances that not all of them would show up. But whoever shows up, it’s important to meet and talk to them including the senior leaders.