The gloves are officially off.
The rat race for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections has begun. Starting with the BJP's national convention in New Delhi where Prime Minister Narendra Modi's arousing speech implored the crowd to decide what kind of 'pradhan sevak' it wants for the next five years to Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party announcing their tie-up in Uttar Pradesh and keeping the Congress out of the scene — the political landscape in India is about to get very interesting.
Joining the chorus, Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has also jumped in the ring with his allegations and promises for the next five years. Speaking exclusively to News18-India detailing his party's 2019 strategy, Rahul focussed on corruption charges against Modi (Rafale deal, to be specific) and reiterated Centre's "over-zealous" involvement in all the crucial institutions in the country — Central Bureau of Investigation, Supreme Court, Enforcement Directorate, etc. The Congress chief also weighed in on the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh where the respective party supremos —Akhilesh and Mayawati — decided to share 38 seats each keeping Congress out of the equation.
Rahul told the channel that no one from, either the SP or the BSP, reached out to Congress before announcing the alliance. "Congress respects both Akhilesh and Mayawati but the party will put everything at stake in the state and fight the elections. We will not back down from a fight. I think both Mayawati and Mulayam Singh Yadav have underestimated the Congress and what it can do," Rahul said.
Congress is preparing to contest all the 80 constituencies on its own and party chief Rahul is slated to undertake a vigorous campaign in the state. Rahul is slated to address 10 public meetings in Uttar Pradesh in February and is slated to make more frequent visits to the state in the run up to the polls in a bid to boost the party's prospects.
Attacking the Centre for the Rafale deal and the ongoing CBI drama, Rahul said that these incidents indicate that the anti-corruption image of the Modi government is a farce. "What was the rush in ousting Alok Verma, and that too twice? First, in a decision taken at midnight, the Centre removed the CBI director, then Supreme Court ordered for him to be re-instated and then a selection committee headed by Modi chose to transfer Verma again. No one else from the government — Sushma Swaraj, Arun Jaitley, Nitin Gadkari — are asking for his removal, only the prime minister. The question I ask is, why," Rahul told News18 India.
Reiterating the allegations against Modi and the Centre on the Rafale "cover-up", Rahul said, "Entire nation knows that Alok Verma was investigating the Rafale case. Entire nation knows that the CBI director was under pressure. Entire nation knows it was Modi's decision to investigate Alok Verma. Now, Rahul Gandhi can't respond to these allegations, only Modi can," Rahul said.
When asked how he would respond to BJP's allegations that the Congress chief was defaming the nation on an international level, Rahul said, "Our (India's) foundation isn't that weak. When I am asked a question, I respond. The prime minister is quiet on corruption allegations, he does not come to the Parliament to debate but I respond. The truth is that corruption is rampant under Modi's rule."
The prime minister speaks of merit, said Rahul, "So, why didn't the Rafale deal go to HAL? They have been manufacturing aircraft for the past 70 years. Anil Ambani does not have any experience in manufacturing aircraft but the Rs 30,000-crore worth contract was awarded to him. How is this merit-based?"
"Ease of doing business in India is a joke. Economics is in shambles. Ask any vendor, shop owner, small business owners, they will say 'remove Narendra Modi'. This is the truth of India," Rahul said.
The Opposition has trained all its guns on the ruling government and has decided it to corner it over corruption and high-handedness of the top national organisations. The Congress, especially, is banking heavily on influential caste leaders in all 543 Lok Sabha constituencies for 2019 general elections. The party is adopting a multi-pronged approach and reviving its frontal organisations to counter the BJP's grass root connect with voters.
The party has decided that a few dominant community leaders, identified in each parliamentary constituency, will be attached to the Congress candidate fielded from that Lok Sabha seat to ensure electoral gains. The Congress will also follow the BJP's footprints in preparing an outcome-based 2019 plan, and all its departments and frontal organisations — such as the Mahila Congress, Youth Congress, Seva Dal and National Students' Union of India — will design the activities and analyse the expected results at both the national and state-level, Firstpost reported.
Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.
Updated Date: Jan 14, 2019 14:32:41 IST