NEW DELHI: A day after sources close to the Congress said that it is open to having a Prime Ministerial candidate from alliance partners, party president Rahul Gandhi has too hinted that he would back anyone who will defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
Rahul reportedly made this remark while replying to a question posed by a woman journalist on whether he would back All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) chief Mamata Banerjee or Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Mayawati as the face of Prime Minister in the upcoming general elections.
Not disclosing the Congress' strategy for the 2019 General Elections, the Gandhi scion said that the key agenda would be to seal their victory in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which jointly constitute 22 percent share of seats in Lok Sabha.
For this, Rahul said the Congress was ready to form alliances in the two states to defeat the BJP.
Rahul also noted that his party can benefit from the fact two top BJP's allies - Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and Shiv Sena - were already miffed with the saffron party, which would be an added advantage to the Congress.
Rahul, however, reportedly said his chances of becoming the next Prime Minister would be subject to where the dice falls.
In a separate interaction with the media too, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor too said that he was at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Sunday where the mood around the table was unanimously in favour of forming alliances and working with other parties.
I was at the Congress Working Committee meeting on Sunday and I can assure you that the mood around the table was unanimously in favour of alliances and working with other parties: Shashi Tharoor, Congress (24/7/2018) pic.twitter.com/K9LbkqYTDH
— ANI (@ANI) July 25, 2018
Earlier in the day, the Congress had shared images on social media from the party president's interaction with women journalists in the national capital.
"Congress President @RahulGandhi met and interacted with women journalists earlier this evening and what a wonderful interaction it was!" the party posted from the official Twitter handle.
— Congress (@INCIndia) July 24, 2018
Congress party sources had on Tuesday said that to prevent the BJP from coming back to power in 2019, the party will attempt to stitch up alliances with various parties in major states.
On whether Rahul Gandhi will step aside for a woman candidate from a possible Opposition alliance, the sources said he "is comfortable seeing any prime minister other than an RSS-backed one".
There is speculation in the Opposition camp that a woman prime ministerial candidate may be projected in the next elections and names of BSP leader Mayawati and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee are doing the rounds.
After the meeting of the Congress Working Committee (CWC) on Sunday, the Congress said that Rahul Gandhi will be its prime ministerial face for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It also authorised Rahul Gandhi to forge alliances with "like-minded" political parties to take on the ruling BJP.
Stating that it's going to be an "ideological fight", the sources said the Congress has to bring all the opposition parties together to defeat the BJP.
"India in 2004 is different from 2014. This is beyond our regular political battle. It is for the first time all institutions are attacked," the sources said and added, " the more the RSS attacks Congress, it will help the party to build."
The sources further said that the Congress does not believe in "right or left" views but for a liberal and pragmatic space.
According to the sources, the Congress leadership is of the view that the BJP will be decimated without any "anger and disrespect".
The BJP will not get enough seats to win the next general polls as parties like the TDP and the Shiv Sena are not happy with the saffron party, the sources added.
For Narendra Modi to be the prime minister again, he has to get seats in the range of 280 and that is not going to happen, they said.
The sources said if grand anti-BJP alliances in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar work out fine, then it will be difficult for Modi to retain power.
While Uttar Pradesh has 80 Lok Sabha seats, Bihar has 40 and the two together comprise over 22 percent of the total strength of Lok Sabha members of 543.
(With Agency Inputs)