Lucknow: Within weeks of his elevation to the post of party Vice President, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi has been termed as the prime ministerial candidate by Union Minister Beni Prasad Verma, who says there is no comparison between the Gandhi scion and Narendra Modi as the former is a "national leader". "My prime ministerial candidate is Rahul Gandhi, Congress will decide when it has to. I have been saying this openly for past two years," Verma said in Lucknow.
Amid speculation that the Gujarat Chief Minister can spearhead the Bharatiya Janata Party campaign in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Verma brushed aside any comparison between Rahul and Modi, saying only Rahul "has the ability to to run the country" and "people like Modi cannot run it". "Rahul is the leader of the country. He has travelled the length and breadth and has his own organisation of youth and the NSUI in every state. Modi is chief minister of a state. Only Rahul has the ability to run the country. People like Modi cannot run it," he said.
When asked about Modi's third successive victory and Congress's failure in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar under Rahul, Verma said Congress leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi ruled the country for over four decades. Verma said while Rahul thinks for country's poor, backward and minorities, Modi works with a bias towards minorities and hence, leaders like him should not come to power. "There was Atal's charisma once, but at that time (also) it was not a majority (government), but alliance. Atalji was somewhat balanced," he said.
While Rahul enjoys overwhelming support within the party, there has been an internal bickering within the party against Modi, the minister claimed. On being asked whether Congress can touch the figure of 60 out of 80 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh, the minister said he will not "stake claims as made by SP supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav".
Acknowledging that the party committed a few mistakes which cost it in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, Verma claimed the Congress-led UPA will again return to power at the Centre. When asked why will the people vote for Congress after being faced with issues like corruption and inflation, Verma said the party will go to voters with a vision to take the country forward, besides several measures for the benefit of farmers and people from weaker sections.