Congress Won’t Project Rahul Gandhi as PM Face in 2019, Says Chidambaram

Chennai: The Congress will not project party president Rahul Gandhi or any other leader as the prime ministerial face ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha elections, former finance minister P Chidambaram has told News18 Tamil in an exclusive interview.

The Congress has been trying to stitch together a grand alliance of regional parties to take on the BJP next year and hopes to head such a coalition, but has received mixed to negative response from potential allies.

“We never said that we want Rahul Gandhi to be prime minister. When few Congressmen were talking about it, the AICC intervened and stop such talk. We want the BJP to be ousted. In its place, we want to see an alternative government which is progressive, respects freedom of individuals, doesn’t indulge in tax terrorism, gives protection to women and children, and uplifts farmers,” he said.

“We want an alliance to be formed. The Prime minister will be decided by the alliance partners after the election,” he added.

Admitting that regional parties have grown in the last two decades and are eating into the votes of national parties, Chidambaram said the combined vote share of the BJP and Congress has plummeted below 50 percent. He also accused the Narendra Modi government at the Centre of adopting “threatening tactics” to keep regional parties from joining hands with the Congress.

“The situation would change once the government is reduced to a caretaker one and we form a formidable alliance at the state level,” he said.

Gandhi had earlier this month said he was willing to become prime minister if allies want him, but the first step was for all parties to get together and defeat the ruling BJP.

“We have had discussions with allies and what we decided is that this is a two stage process stage — one is to get together and defeat BJP and stage two is, once the election is over then we will decide what happens,” the Congress president had said at the HT Leadership Summit on October 5.

Probed further about the possibility of him becoming prime minister, Gandhi had said, “If they (allies) want me, sure… I will.”

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