New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi today denied he was in the race to be the prime minister, and came out strongly in favour of an inclusive India.
Rubbishing unending speculation that he might pitch for the prime ministerial job, Gandhi said here: “It’s an irrelevant question. It’s all smoke.”
He was speaking at a hall packed with business leaders at a Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) meet.
Many feel that Gandhi, son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, could become the prime minister if the Congress wins the next Lok Sabha election due next year.
“I want to help India by giving voice to its people. You have to unlock the potential of a billion people,” said Gandhi, dressed in a white kurta-pyjama.
The 42-year-old, who became the vice president of the 127-year-old Congress Jan 19, spoke on many issues and answered questions from business leaders with confidence.
He took a dig at Hindutva ideology.
“I don’t like to keep people out. You can’t keep Biharis out of Mumbai or the Muslims of the system. This is not sustainable,” he said.
No single individual, he said, would be able to resolve all the problems facing the country.
“If you think there is a guy who will come on a horse charging through and set everything right, this is not going to happen,” said Gandhi.
He said miracles should not be expected from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh either.
“If you expect the prime minister to solve all the problems, you are going to keep expecting.”
Stating that tags about him like ‘pro-poor’ or ‘pro-Dalit’ or ‘pro-tribal’ “were just pieces of paper”, Gandhi said “it is an accident that I come from a chain of people”.
Noting that Congress was the only party capable of working with the industry for inclusive development, he said: “I believe in you. I want to forge a partnership with you to take India forward.”
To facilitate that, he assured the industry a “fair and rule-based government system”.
Gandhi also told industry leaders that if they could thrive in a complex environment like India, he was sure they would succeed anywhere in the world.
Noting that lack of communication between various stakeholders in the value chain was resulting in complexities, he urged the business delegates to unlock the potential of a billion people.
“You cannot imagine what can happen if you open the channels.”