The Aam Aadmi Party’s Kumar Vishwas, who plans to challenge the Congress party from the Gandhi family’s bastion in Uttar Pradesh, said it would be unfortunate if Rahul Gandhi became India’s prime minister.
Vishwas’s remarks came as Gandhi suggested in a rare interview published on Tuesday in the Dainik Bhaskar that he was ready to be prime minister if the Congress returns to power in the 2014 general election due by May.
“I don’t think that India has the misfortune of him (Rahul Gandhi) ever becoming prime minister,” Vishwas said in a telephone interview from Amethi district. “The direction in which the country is headed right now … things will only get worse (if Gandhi becomes PM).”
The poet-turned-politician is likely to contest from Amethi, a constituency from where Gandhi has won the last two parliamentary elections. An official announcement by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is a formality, Vishwas said.
“People who have made it this far on the basis of their family name … how can they lead this country?” he said.
Amethi has been a stronghold of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty with Gandhi’s parents (Rajiv and Sonia) and uncle (Sanjay) having represented the seat in parliament. “This is a prince-versus-pauper battle … my fight is not against Rahul Gandhi, it is against this dynasty rule,” the 43-year-old Vishwas said.
Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP, or “common man party”, is planning to contest national polls this year, riding on an anti-corruption wave that helped them form a government in the capital city of New Delhi after Gandhi’s party threw its support behind AAP.
Despite the AAP’s success in the capital, opinion polls say that the Bharatiya Janata Party under Narendra Modi might displace the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance in 2014. A slowing economy, rising food prices and corruption scandals have hurt the ruling coalition’s reputation.
The AAP, which is working on its national manifesto, on Monday overturned the previous Congress government’s decision to allow foreign investment in Delhi’s retail sector, a move that could dampen investor sentiment and hurt the UPA’s efforts to revive the economy.