Congress president Rahul Gandhi is confident that the United Democratic Front (UDF) will win the Lok Sabha elections in Kerala “hands down” as his party has been accommodating and respectful to its allies. On the other hand, he accused the Left Democratic Front (LDF) of “mishandling” issues in the state.
Rahul Gandhi said he would not like to interfere in the issues of faith and tradition involved in Sabarimala and other controversies, but said as a Congressman, he was confident that the people of Kerala themselves would speak to each other and evolve harmony.
In a wide ranging exclusive interview to Riyad Mathew, Chief Associate Editor and Director, and Sachidananda Murthy, Resident Editor, Delhi of Malayala Manorama and The Week, Rahul Gandhi said he did not see any dichotomy in the Congress talking to the CPM in Bengal, but bitterly opposing it in Kerala. Travelling from Chennai to Thiruvananthapuram on a special aircraft after an interaction with students of Chennai's prestigious Stella Maris College and before going to Nagercoil for a Congress rally, he said the local units of the party had an important role in determining state level alliances. “Yes, we do work with the Left in Bengal while we oppose them in Kerala. These are unconnected,” he explained. This is the first interview given by Rahul Gandhi ahead of the coming Lok Sabha elections.
Asked whether he would invite the CPM to join government if a Congress-led coalition comes to power, he did not give a direct answer but said the entire opposition was united against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP. He went on to say that even the alliance partners of the BJP were unhappy about Modi's policies. Though he did not name any of the partners, he said he was getting feelers from these parties.
Regarding differences within Congress, including in Kerala unit, over issues, Rahul Gandhi said his job as party president is to encourage expression of different views, which is not a problem. “It can be discussed and can be amiably worked out".
On people of Kerala and the state's Congress leaders, he said, Kerala and its people are very important for Congress. “Our battle against the fascist BJP government at the Centre begins here in Kerala. Our state unit is fully united and working together and we hope to win majority of the seats in the coming elections.”
Rahul was certain about UPA winning a majority in the elections. He also said the people of the country will decide who will be the next PM.
Asked about the prospects of UDF, he said UDF will win in Kerala hands down. The LDF has mishandled things. The Congress will do extremely well in Kerala. Also the Congress has been quite accommodating and respectful to all its allies and this will help us win majority of seats in Kerala.
(Full interview in The Week)