Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Saturday said that his party will fight the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh on its own, after Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) finalised a seat-sharing agreement in the state earlier in the day, all but leaving out Congress from the equation.
“They have every right to form the alliance,” said the Congress chief, while addressing a press conference in Dubai, on the last day of his two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). He added that he had “tremendous respect” for both Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati.
“They have taken a decision in Uttar Pradesh, and we will have to take our own decision too. The Congress has a lot to offer to the people of Uttar Pradesh,” stated the Congress President.
“I have tremendous respect for the leaders of the BSP and Samajwadi Party, and recognise that they have the right to do what they want. It's on us to strengthen the Congress Party in Uttar Pradesh, and we will fight to our full capacity,” he added.
The Congress President took questions on a range of issues during the presser.
In reply to a question, he asserted that his name was not Narendra Modi and he did not like to lie or make false promises. “I will not promise what I cannot deliver,” he asserted while assuring a questioner that if voted to power, the party would grant special status to Andhra Pradesh.
“We will grant it because it was the commitment made by the Government of India and the Prime Minister of India—not by any political party. But Prime Minister Narendra Modi did not think it proper to honour it.”
Asked for his personal opinion on Sabarimala, the Congress President replied that his position had changed after talking to people in Kerala. He saw merit in the arguments put across by both sides and it was for the people of Kerala to choose what they wanted. He refused to comment on the Supreme Court decision.
On the Rafale controversy, he reiterated that a lot more detail are yet to come out. “This is just a trailer. Wait for more,” he said to a questioner. He said that in the Lok Sabha it should have been the Prime Minister who should have defended the government but he ran away and did not have the guts to face the House. Simple questions like why Prime Minister Modi had imposed Anil Ambani’s company on Dassault were yet to be answered, he added.
In reply to a pointed question on what he would do if voted to power, he said, “ We need to create jobs and that will be the first priority.” He added that restoring the integrity of institutions would also be an important goal for the next government.
Some of the other points made by the Congress President during the half-an hour interaction are as follows:
(with inputs from NH Political Bureau)