NEW DELHI: India’s main opposition Congress party said on Monday it would not name its leader Rahul Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate of an alliance seeking to defeat Prime Minister Narendra Modi in next year’s general election.
Congress is working to build an opposition front with other parties in preparation for the vote, and spokesman Sanjay Jha said it would respect the “aspirations” of potential alliance partners though no alternative candidates will be nominated.
Jha said the party would be following the same strategy as it did in 2004 when its alliance defeated a coalition led by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) without formally naming a prime ministerial nominee.
“Defeating the BJP is our primary goal, and therefore the Congress party is going to be very politically accommodating because we believe that regional parties’ aspirations and their ambitions will have to be respected depending upon relative strengths in different areas,” he said.
Many of Congress’s potential alliance parties are run by ambitious regional leaders with years of governance experience.
Echoing Jha’s comments, senior Congress leader and former finance and interior minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said the party’s main focus was on forging an alliance to win the election, due by May 2019.
“We want to form a coalition, make it win and then the parties involved will decide who becomes prime minister,” he told TV channel News18 Tamil Nadu in an interview broadcast at the weekend.
Gandhi, 48, is a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty that has ruled India for nearly four decades since its independence from Britain in 1947.
Published in Dawn, October 23rd, 2018
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