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Rahul's disqualification will 'put in more steel' in Congress: Chidambaram

Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday said his party's leader Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha would strengthen the Congress party

P Chidambaram

P Chidambaram

Press Trust of India Kolkata
Former finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram on Sunday said his party's leader Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from Lok Sabha would strengthen the Congress party, helping its prospects in next year's general election.
Describing the political landscape as an undeclared emergency, Chidambaram in an exclusive emailed interview said the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has made the Congress its prime target wishing its elimination in order to more easily manage the regional parties.
However, he asserted that Congress would not be eliminated and regional parties would rise and fight the BJP.
Excerpts:

In the backdrop of Rahul Gandhi's disqualification from the Lok Sabha after a court judgement in a defamation case, how do you read the country's political landscape?

The country is already in an emergency-like situation. It is an undeclared emergency. One of the complaints during the emergency was that press freedom was snuffed out. Is it any different today? Journalists and the independence of the media are under numerous constraints today. The BJP's prime target is the Congress party. They think if they are able to eliminate the Congress party from the electoral battleground, the regional or state-specific parties will be easy targets. They are wrong on both counts. The Congress party cannot be eliminated. The regional or state-specific parties will rise and fight.
Do you think the Rahul Gandhi incident would help the Congress in the 2024 elections?

The developments of the last few days have put more steel in the Congress party. We know we are fighting a formidable Leviathan. Fighting the BJP, unity of purpose, struggle, sacrifice etc., will indeed strengthen the Congress party. A stronger Congress will certainly be a major force in the (2024) election.
As a senior leader of the Congress, what would be your advice to Rahul Gandhi at this hour?

He (Rahul Gandhi) does not need my advice and I do not advise him. He is brave and fearless. In the Bharat Jodo Yatra he demonstrated his grit and determination qualities that many people were happy to discover in Mr Gandhi.
Though the Trinamool Congress has described Gandhi's disqualification from the LS "as a new low for Constitutional democracy, it has also earlier stated that the Congress "should not consider itself to be the big boss of the Opposition Front and should give due respect to the regional parties". What is your opinion on this?

Broadly speaking, I agree with that view. To the best of my knowledge, the Congress' leadership does not think differently. We think that Opposition unity can be achieved and sustained only through a common understanding of the current political situation, shared goals, and mutual respect. No one in the Congress has suggested that the Congress should be the big boss. The way that Mrs Sonia Gandhi and Dr Manmohan Singh led the UPA (the alliance and the government) with exceptional grace and wisdom and successfully too is proof of the fact that no one in the Congress harbours any sense of superiority.
How important would be the regional parties' role for the next year's elections?

The regional parties are an integral part of our federal structure. In fact, the presence and the success of several regional parties have underlined that the Indian political structure is essentially federal. I believe that the regional parties will play a crucial role in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Mar 26 2023 | 1:46 PM IST

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