Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Thursday, 2 May, said the Congress’ primary aim was to defeat the BJP, and that they were working towards it in Uttar Pradesh for the Lok Sabha elections. Gandhi added that the Congress was helping the Mahagathbandhan in the state to fulfil this ambition.
Speaking to NDTV on the sidelines of an election rally in Chomu, Rajasthan, Gandhi said, “In Uttar Pradesh, a secular formation is going to win the election. Whether the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party or the Congress, a secular party will win the vote.”
He explained that the Congress was not actually dividing the Opposition vote by fielding Priyanka Gandhi to campaign in the state, and that their plan was to help the Mahagathbandhan wherever the Congress did not have strong candidates.
“Wherever we don’t have a strong candidate, we are helping the SP and the BSP. We are harming the BJP. Where we have strong candidates, we are fighting to defend our space,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi said that the Congress’ plan was to ultimately defeat the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, so in places where the party was aware that they would not win, they were helping the SP and BSP.
“The Gathbandhan and the Congress are going to clean Uttar Pradesh up,” Gandhi said.
Responding to a question about why the Congress and SP keep attacking each other, Gandhi said, “Obviously, in the UP context, the Congress is a threat to Mayawati and Mulayam Singh ji. As far as I’m concerned, I’m extremely respectful of Mayawati and Akhilesh”.
“You’’ll have to ask the BSP and the SP. They chose, for strategic reasons, not to ally with the Congress, but our primary job is to defeat the BJP,” he said.
When asked why the Congress and the SP-BSP alliance had not taken form, Gandhi said it was their choice, all the while stressing that crushing the BJP was the main goal.
Gandhi also articulated the party’s ultimate aim in Uttar Pradesh. “My long-term position in Uttar Pradesh is clear. We have to defend our ideology in UP,” he said, adding that the Congress were also aiming to build the party up for the Assembly elections.
He also stressed that the short term aim for the party, in the Lok Sabha elections, was to fight for their space in the state.
In the interview which lasted over 15 minutes, Gandhi also spoke about the party’s non-alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party, on the Rafale deal and the contempt in the Supreme Court against him.