Bengaluru, Karnataka: Rahul Gandhi, reacting to the ruling BJP’s recurring campaign pitch about a “Congress-Mukt Bharat (Congress-free India)”, says he does not want a “BJP-Mukt Bharat”. “I will fight them, I will defeat them,” he says in an interview to the newspaper Deccan Herald.
The Congress president also says people who left the party for the BJP are “already having second thoughts.”
The comments come as the Karnataka poll campaign enters the slog overs, with big guns including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Rahul Gandhi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath crisscrossing the state.
“You might have noticed Mr Modi talks very disparagingly about me, about other Congress leaders. I will always respect the post of the Prime Minister. You will not see me using the same type of language. I am even saying that the BJP view is a fact in India, and I don’t want a BJP-mukt Bharat,” the 47-year-old tells the daily.
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According to him, there is a “huge reaction” in Karnataka against what he called a narrowly defined, Nagpur-RSS idea of nationalism. The RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh is the ideological mentor of the BJP.
“This election is frankly about Karnataka’s voice versus the RSS viewpoint versus Narendra Modi’s very rigid concept of what it means to be an Indian,” he said.
“There is a natural reaction that is coming, we saw it in Gujarat, it is there in Karnataka, it is all over the country. This country is not going to tolerate Mr Narendra Modi or anybody else for that matter, telling this country what they think this country needs to do.”
Asked how vital he thinks the Karnataka election is in the run-up to the 2019 national polls, Rahul Gandhi says: “Mr Narendra Modi came to power in India on some planks. Number one was jobs, number two corruption, number three farmers. He has failed in addressing all three. Gujarat is the first demonstration that he has failed in them, Karnataka will be the next, and after that you will see Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. And then in 2019, India is clearly going to state to Mr Narendra Modi – Mr Modi you promised us three things and all you have given us is a lot of talk. But nothing has really happened.”
Karnataka votes on May 12 and the results will be declared three days later.