India’s Congress party is “reasonably confident” of wining general elections to be held by May, its vice president Rahul Gandhi said, even as opinion polls show the ruling coalition set for its worst-ever performance.
“In the last 10 years, we gave the country the fastest economic growth it’s ever had,” Gandhi, 43, said in an interview with Times Now television broadcast today, adding the government has transformed the rural economy. The party is “battle ready,” he said.
India faces the risk of a credit-rating downgrade as inflation remains elevated and economic growth lingers near a 10-year low if the elections don’t produce a government that reverses the situation.
Rahul Gandhi’s family has dominated the Congress party and Indian politics for more than six decades, and he’s faced high expectations since he was first elected to parliament in 2004. His mother, Sonia Gandhi, is the party president.
The Congress party earlier this month declined to make Gandhi its formal prime minister candidate, a move described by his political opponent Narendra Modi as a signal the party would lose the election.
“If the Congress party so chooses and Congress party wants me to do anything for them, I am happy to do that,” Gandhi said, indicating he won’t decline the prime ministerial post if Congress retains power.
The scion of India’s foremost political dynasty said as the vice president of the party he will take full responsibility if Congress does not win the election.
“There is absolutely nothing I am scared off,” Gandhi said responding a question on whether he fears losing to Bharatiya Janata Party prime ministerial candidate Modi. “I have an aim, I have an clear aim in my mind and the aim is that I don’t like what I see in Indian politics, it is something that is inside my heart.”
Gandhi said he supports “opening up” India’s political system, rather than concentrating power in one person, which he said is the objective of Modi and the BJP. He wants to expand a rural workfare program introduced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government, he said.
Gandhi also said India should be as much of a manufacturing power as China is.
The BJP is set to win 188 seats in the 545-member lower house, surpassing the 182 seats it won in 1999, according to a C-Voter poll for India Today published on Jan. 23. Congress may get as few as 91 seats versus 210 now, dropping to its lowest on record, the poll indicated, without providing a margin of error. A separate survey on Jan. 24 showed the BJP winning as many as 210 seats, with a maximum of 108 for Congress.
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