- Ready to become PM If Congress is the biggest party in 2019: Rahul Gandhi
- He said this while campaigning for the May 12 elections in Karnataka
- Karnataka is one of the last major state under Congress rule
At a gathering of prominent citizens in Bengaluru, an outreach organised in the last few days of campaigning for the May 12 Karnataka election, the Congress president was asked whether he could become Prime Minister.
"I am pretty convinced that Mr Modi is not going to be prime minister. I can see it in his face. He knows it," he said in reply to a question.
"Will you become prime minister?" the questioner asked.
"Well it depends... it depends on how well the Congress party does. If the Congress party is the biggest party, yes," he responded.
If the Congress acted as a "platform" (with other parties in a coalition), the BJP didn't stand a chance of winning the elections, he said, stressing on opposition unity.
"It is highly unlikely that BJP will form the next government, and the second part is that it is close to impossible that Modi will be the next prime minister," he added.
Congress leaders have told NDTV that he has voiced the sentiment for some time now, but not beyond off-record conversations with journalists.
The Karnataka election is the first in a series of markers on the way to the 2019 polls. Karnataka is one of the last major states under Congress rule, and Rahul Gandhi desperately needs a win to counter an aggressive BJP.
This is not the first such declaration from Rahul Gandhi, seen for years as a reluctant politician even though he contested three parliamentary elections and was his mother Sonia Gandhi's deputy in the party for five years.
In September last year, speaking to students at UC Berkley, the 47-year-old had said he was "absolutely ready" to be the party's prime ministerial candidate for the 2019 general elections.
Three months later, he took over as Congress president, a post Sonia Gandhi held for 19 years.
Today's comment, placed strategically in the final days of campaigning in Karnataka, is seen as a big message that the party and its chief are clear about the prime ministerial choice, no hesitation.
"There is no ban on day dreaming, Rahul Gandhi can dream of being the next PM of the country in 2019," union minister Prakash Javadekar of the BJP said disparagingly.
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