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Will win Gujarat polls, AAP only in air, nothing on ground: Rahul Gandhi

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‘I feel and the Congress party believes that the Oppn works together harmoniously to defeat the ideology of the RSS and the BJP’


KOTHUR (TELANGANA), Oct 31 (PTI): Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Monday exuded confidence that his party will win the upcoming Gujarat assembly elections, contending that there is “massive” anti-incumbency against the BJP while the Aam Aadmi Party has created a buzz in the state purely based on advertisements and has no support on the ground.

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Addressing a press conference here during his Bharat Jodo Yatra, Gandhi said the march is “not a magic wand” but a good first step to connect with people.

He ruled out any alliance with the TRS, saying it is “diametrically opposite” to what the Congress stands for.

Gandhi dismissed the challenge posed by AAP in Gujarat and said the Congress has a solid base in the state.

“Congress is fighting the Gujarat elections effectively and the Congress will win the polls. AAP is only in the air. It has nothing on the ground,” he told reporters here to questions on his party’s prospects in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home state.

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“There is massive anti-incumbency. The media has created a buzz based on the advertisements given by AAP. Congress party is a solid party in Gujarat. The Congress party is going to win the election there,” he said.

On when and where he will campaign in the poll-bound states of Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat, Gandhi said, “Kharge Ji is the president of the party and he will decide how I am to be utilised.”

Gandhi refused to comment on the tragedy in Morbi where a bridge collapsed leaving more than 130 dead, saying he did not wish to politicise the incident.

Asked about his remarks at the Udaipur Chintan Shivir that the Congress’ connection with the people has been broken and how far he has been able to reestablish it with the Yatra, Gandhi said, “Bharat Jodo Yatra is a good first step to connect with people, not a magic wand, but still a good first step.”

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Gandhi said the fight in India today is between two ideologies – one that is seeking to divide the nation and the other that wants to bring the nation together.

“The line is very clear. I feel and the Congress party believes that the Opposition works together harmoniously to defeat the ideology of the RSS and the BJP,” Gandhi said.

On the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), he said there is absolutely no possibility of any relationship between the TRS and the Congress.

“The corruption, the approach, the attitude of the TRS is not acceptable to us. We are diametrically opposite to what they are doing,” he said.

Asked about TRS founder K Chandrasekhar Rao’s move to rename his party as the Bharath Rashtra Samithi, Gandhi said the Telangana chief minister was free to imagine that he was leading a national or even an international party.

Responding to a question, Gandhi said a lot of damage has been done to the institutional framework of the country under the current government.

“There has been a systematic attack on different institutions … how the press is controlled, pressured, threatened, many journalists have walked with me and they have been telling me,” he claimed.

When the Congress comes back to power, it is going to make sure that these institutions are once again freed from the grasp of the RSS and a certain independence is maintained in these institutions, he said.

“With regards to the massive concentration of capital, if you look at what is happening to small and medium businesses in the country, what is happening to the job creation structure of this country, essentially it has been destroyed and today India is unable to produce jobs.

“A huge part of the reason is that there is a massive concentration of power. Both the BJP government at the Centre and the TRS government here in Telangana are doing this,” he said.

On a question about OBC reservation, Gandhi said that as far as the OBC census is concerned, it is the Congress that came up with the idea and did the census.

“I am very clear, I have absolutely no question in my mind, the OBC census needs to be made public. People need to understand the makeup of India’s population,” he asserted.

Gandhi also said the idea of the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’ is to fight the “hatred and the anger that the BJP is spreading across the country” which is weakening it.

“We are walking 3,500 kilometers across the country and we are inviting people, who believe in the idea of Bharat Jodo and they are joining us by the lakhs. So, this is a very powerful way of demonstrating the feeling that India has inside. India does not believe in this hatred and this violence that the BJP is spreading,” he said.

Asked whether there was a need for “Congress Jodo” (uniting Congress), as some BJP leaders have said, Gandhi said there are many Congress as well as non-party people participating in the Yatra, besides workers of other parties.

Referring to the recently-concluded Congress presidential polls in which Mallikarjun Kharge beat Shashi Tharoor to take charge as party president, Gandhi said the Congress has demonstrated that it is a democratic party by electing its president.

“I am wondering when other political parties are going to do this. I am wondering when the RSS and BJP are going to have an election, when is the TRS going to have an election, this is just a question I have in my mind.

“It is interesting to me that the press always asks about the Congress party and election and democracy in the Congress, but never ever dares to ask about democracy in the TRS, RSS or the BJP,” he said.

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