Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Friday said he is willing to be the Prime Minister if allies want him to be.
When the Congress chief was asked about his remarks in the run up to the Karnataka Assembly elections when he had expressed his willingness to be the Prime Minister, he said it would be a two stage process — first defeating the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and then deciding on the Prime Ministerial candidate after the elections.
When pressed on the issue at an interactive session at the Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi, Gandhi said: “If they (allies) want me, I will surely want to be the Prime Minister.”
“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 explained.
Asked about the similarities and differences between him and his mother Sonia Gandhi, he said: “She taught me patience, I used to be impatient. Both of us tend to listen but sometimes I tell her she is too patient.
“She tells me that she goes by her gut feeling and I go on thinking… I don’t agree with that.
The Congress chief answered questions on a range of issues, including his temple visits and the RSS.
Gandhi said he has been going to temples, gurdwaras and mosques for years, but the issue of his visits to temples has suddenly been publicised.
“I guess BJP doesn’t like it. It infuriates them. BJP feels only they can go to temples, he said.
He said he has developed a thick skin. He can understand criticism and is not disturbed by it. “My response is to listen.”
He added that while he does not see India in blocks, he believes every Indian is a stakeholder.
Taking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP and its ideological mentor RSS, Gandhi said a single, suffocating ideology is being imposed upon 1.2 billion Indians. “The ideological centre that is fighting the BJP can only be the Congress,” he said.
“I am ready to take criticisms and questions. Why can’t the prime minister do the same. India desperately needs healing and listening and all sections want it,” he said.
Replying to a question about whether there is anyone special in his life, Gandhi smiled and replied that he has a lot of special people in his life, like his mother and sister.
(With inputs from agencies)