Congress leader Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said the Opposition is pretty well united and a lot of good work is happening on the ground as he asserted that there is a hidden undercurrent building and it will “surprise” the people in the next general elections.
Gandhi, who is in the US for a three-city US tour, made the remarks in response to a series of questions during an interaction with the media at the National Press Club.
“I think the Congress party will do very well in the next two years. I think it will,” said 52-year-old Gandhi, a former party president.
“I think there is a hidden undercurrent building I think (the outcome) will surprise people,” he added.
Pointing out the outcome of the Karnataka assembly elections where Congress secured a comfortable majority and ousted the BJP from power, Gandhi said, “Wait and watch the next three or four state elections, which is a better indicator of what’s going to happen.”
Responding to another question, Gandhi said the Opposition in India is pretty well united. “And I think it’s getting more and more united. We’re having conversations with all the Opposition (parties). I think quite a lot of good work is happening.”
“It’s a complicated discussion because there are spaces where we have competing also with (other) Opposition (parties). So, it’s a little bit of give and take as required. But I’m confident that that will happen,” he added.
Gandhi also answered a range of questions, including on press and religious freedoms in India, the issues faced by the minorities and on the state of the economy.
When asked about the worldwide high levels of popularity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Gandhi said there is a “definite capture of the institutions of the country. There’s a definite capture of the press in the country. I’m not convinced that you know, I don’t, I don’t believe everything I hear.”
When asked what his party would do to implement to ensure the rights of minorities in India if it came to power, he said, “India has a very robust system already in place, (but) that system has been weakened…You have to have an independent set of institutions that are not pressurized and controlled. And that’s been the norm in India. This is an aberration that is taking place in India…If you say that if Congress came to power that they could quickly be restored, quickly.”
On weakening press freedom in India, he said press freedom is very, very critical for democracy.
“It’s not just press freedom. It’s political access on multiple axis, there is a clamp down on the institutional framework that allowed India to talk, that allowed the Indian people to negotiate…. And that structure that allows the negotiation between India’s people is coming under pressure,” he added.
On US-India ties, he said the relationship between India and the United States is very, very important.
“It’s important to have a defense relationship. But I think we need to also consider other areas (of cooperation),” he added.