New Delhi, Jan 28 :
Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi Monday said his party decided to support the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi “to give them a chance to prove themselves” and dismissed the notion that it was done in order to divide the anti-Congress vote.
Asked by Times Now news channel if after witnessing the “chaos” in Delhi if he agreed with Finance Minister P. Chidambaram’s view that the decision to support AAP was unnecessary, Gandhi said: “I think that as far as I am concerned that the AAP won an election in Delhi and we thought that we would assist them.”
Prodded by anchor Arnab Goswami further, he said the Congress felt the AAP should be given “a chance to prove themselves, and one can see what they are doing and one can see exactly how much they have proved themselves”.
Asked to comment about popular Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, Gandhi merely said: “He is a leader of an opposition party like many others.”
Asked point blank if the Congress was using the AAP to split the anti-Congress vote bank in order to keep BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi out of power, he said: “I think you underestimate the power of the Congress party, I don’t think the Congress party could even do that if they wanted to…..Questions about whether we have supported AAP or not supported AAP, frankly it is a ridiculous notion. It is ridiculous that we would construct the AAP..”.
To Goswami’s question if the Congress could continue to support Kejriwal’s party if it goes against former chief minister Sheila Dikshit in the CWG scam, Gandhi did not answer the question, and merely said: “I have already said that regardless of who the person is, if there is an issue of corruption, the law should take its own course, that’s my position.”
Asked if he has changed views on the AAP after praising them initially, Gandhi said the way they have reached people in their own particular way was good.
“The work that I have done in the Congress party, the work that I have done in the youth Congress and the work that I am going to do in the future is about bringing in youngsters into the party, strengthening processes, strengthening candidate selection process and strengthening policy processes,” he said.
Gandhi said he had spoken earlier about something that the Congress “can learn from them (AAP)”.
“What I felt that we could learn from them is that they reached out to people in a particular way that was good. There are things that I don’t think we should take away from them.”
Not in quest for power
The Congress vice president said he is not “driven by the desire for power” and he was an “anomaly in the environment” he is in.
In an interview to TimesNow, in what was billed as his first formal TV interview in ten years, Gandhi said: “I don’t get driven by the desire for power. For me, power is an instrument that can be used for certain things. It’s not interesting to own it, to capture it or to hold it.”
“Maybe it’s because of my family circumstances and what happened to my family. Power per se, the quest for power, the thirst for power is not there in me. What is there in me, is a desire, a strong desire to reduce the pain that people feel,” he added.
“Frankly, in a lot of ways, I am an anomaly in the environment that I’m in.” He said “I feel the pain” and have a strong desire to “change the system
Cong leaders may have had a role in 1984 riots
Rahul also admitted some Congress members were probably involved in the 1984 riots, in which innocent people had died.
“Some Congressmen were probably involved…There is a legal process through which they have gone through… Some Congressmen have been punished for it,” he said in an interview to Times Now news channel.
Referring to his grandmother and late prime minister Indira Gandhi’s loss in 1977 Lok Sabha elections, he said: “The people who came with my grandmother, those people who stood by my grandmother, were Sikhs.”
“Pretty much everyone had deserted my grandmother but the Sikhs were standing with my grandmother. I think the Sikhs are probably one of the industrious people in this country. I admire them; we have a PM who is a Sikh,” Gandhi said, referring to Manmohan Singh.
Gandhi said he did not have the same world view as opposition parties.
“What those two people did to my grandmother, was two individuals, I don’t turn around and take my anger which existed then, frankly, it doesn’t exist now and brush it onto an entire community, that’s just not me,” he said.
“I do not take my anger which existed on two individuals who did something evil and wrong and overlay it on millions of people. I think that’s criminal. Did the Sikh riots take place in Delhi? Absolutely. Were they completely wrong? Absolutely,” Gandhi said.
Asked why does he not apologise for 1984 riots, Gandhi said: “Innocent people died in 1984 and innocent people dying is a horrible thing and should not happen.”