CHENNAI Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that party was close to sealing alliance in Jammu and Kashmir.
On a day-long visit to Tamil Nadu to launch the United Progressive Alliance’s campaign for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, he said he harboured no hatred towards those convicted for the assassination of his father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and asserted that it was for the courts to decide on their release.
Rahul also targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the Rafale deal, saying he should be probed and listed unemployment, farmers distress as the key poll issues.
On Rajiv’s assassination in 1991, the Congress chief said it had two aspects.
“While one was personal, which we have dealt with, the other was the legal issue, which has to take its course. Whatever course the legal issue takes, we are happy with it,” Rahul said.
“We are quite forgiving people. We do not have animosity or hatred towards anybody and it is for the courts to decide (on the convicts’ release),” he told reporters.
Months ago, the Tamil Nadu government had recommended the release of the seven convicts in the case to Governor Banwarilal Purohit. The move was fully backed by all state parties.
Rahul exuded confidence that the Congress-led opposition would emerge victorious in the Lok Sabha elections and promised to simplify the goods and services tax and introduce a “phenomenal and revolutionary idea” — a minimum income guarantee scheme.
On the Rafale deal, he said while there was no question about the aircraft’s capability, the issue was about corruption and there was a need for a probe into it.
Asked if the Congress would scrap the deal if voted to power, he indicated it was not the issue.
“It (scrapping the deal) is a technical decision. We do not have information on that. But the question of corruption is crystal clear… the prime minister is a corrupt man, (he) bypassed negotiations, ran parallel negotiations on the Rafale deal,” Rahul said.
“We will have an investigation and (I am) 100 per cent certain… on the back of that investigation, Mr Narendra Modi and (Anil) Ambani will be convicted,” he added.
Rahul also took a dig at Modi for not interacting with the media and students like him.
“Why are you hiding?” he asked, adding that the prime minister should have the guts to face the media.
He said there has to be a movement towards building bridges and interacting with the media.
“Why is the prime minister scared of (having a) conversation? he asked.
Lashing out at the BJP, Rahul said the saffron party’s idea was to capture every institution of the country and run it from Nagpur, where the headquarters of its ideological parent, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), are located.
“They want the entire country to be run out of Nagpur, RSS. The have destroyed the Planning Commission, they have destroyed the RBI,” he said.
“Then they are in the process of destroying the Supreme Court, the Election Commission. Anything you read with regard to economic data is frankly just invented by government of India as and when they please,” he alleged.
The Congress chief said he believed in decentralising powers of institutions.
“I do not believe that India should be run out of the PMO,” Rahul said.
He said the Congress, if voted to power, would bring in harmony, so that no one feels isolated, harassed or feels that his culture or language is under attack.
Targeting the BJP over the Pulwama attack, he asked why it could not be averted.
Rahul again raked up the 1999 release of Pakistan-based Masood Azhar to attack the BJP.
He said the BJP needed to explain why its government sent back “that criminal”.
To a question, he said his party had finalised alliances in Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Bihar and was close to sealing one in Jammu and Kashmir.
On the Cauvery river water dispute between Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, he said the Congress believed it could be settled amicably.
The Congress chief also targeted Modi over the issue of unemployment.
Though the prime minister made statements about Make in India, Startup India initiatives, the reality is that India’s unemployment rate is the highest in 45 years, Rahul said.
He asserted that unemployment was the single biggest poll issue.
“That (unemployment) is going to be a huge issue in this election. And Narendra Modi is a flop show when it comes to unemployment and job creation,” he said.
Earlier, interacting with students, he said economic growth was directly related to the mood of the nation and one cannot expect it to happen in a negative and fearful ambience.