New Delhi: Shedding any doubts about his "reluctance" to become the Congress party's prime ministerial candidate for the general election, Rahul Gandhi said he will abide by the party's orders and discharge "whatever responsibility" the organisation gives him "with all my sincerity".
In an interview to the widely circulated Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar published Tuesday, a rare media interaction by the rising leader, Gandhi said he did not agree with some of the ways of the Aam Aadmi Party. He hit out at the Bharatiya Janata Party and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi for wanting "personality-oriented power" in this year's Lok Sabha polls.
Gandhi's remarks about accepting any responsibility are being considered significant in political circles as they come days ahead of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting where there is expected to be clamour for appointing him prime ministerial candidate.
In the interview, Gandhi, 43, described himself as a soldier of the party and refuted the perception that he was a reluctant politician.
He contended that Congress should return to power in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections "in the interest of the country" and said the party needs to connect with the youth more. He also said his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will not have "an election-related role."
"In national interest, it is necessary that Congress comes to power (at the centre). And, for that, whatever responsibility organisation has given me or will give to me in the future, I will discharge it with all my sincerity," he was quoted as saying by the paper.
"We are a democratic organisation and we have faith in democracy. People of India would choose who will be their prime minister through their elected representatives," he said.
To another query he said: "See, I am a soldier of the Congress. Whatever order I will get, I will abide by that. Whatever Congress tells me, I will do that....."
There is a growing chorus in the Congress to name Gandhi the prime ministerial candidate at the meeting of the AICC Friday to improve the party's prospects in the Lok Sabha polls expected April-May. Party leader Ambika Soni said Tuesday there was an "overwhelming view" that Gandhi should lead the battle for 2014 Lok Sabha polls, while Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said the party has consistently held that Gandhi was its natural leader.
On the perception of his reluctance for responsibility and the "power is poison" remark at Congress's Jaipur conclave last year, Gandhi said: "Power is poison does not mean that I am not keen to assume responsibility.
"...there is no word like reluctance in my life. Power is poison is an observation that when power comes how to deal with the threats that come with it. It means that power should be used for welfare of people. Don't use it to make yourself powerful, big."
"Whatever task the Congress wanted me to do, I completed that. Whatever responsibility is given to me, I will complete it."
On BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's "popularity", Gandhi said that power should not be exercised through the thinking of one person or his ways.
"The future of 120 crore (1.2 billion) people can be improved only by taking everybody along. Congress is in the DNA of this country. BJP is talking of a Congress-free India. It does not understand that Congress is the only political force that has kept the people together," he said.
He said Congress has changed the nature of polity in the past and will do so in the future.
"From the time I have come in politics, we have been raising these issues. Some of these have been implemented by the Aam Aadmi Party. But our and their approaches are different. Our decisions should be for making the future of people secure and not for short term gains," he said.
To a question about his sister's role, Gandhi said: "Priyanka is my sister and my friend. Also, she is an active worker of the Congress. And due to this, she helps to provide strength to me and the organisation. I do not think she will have an an election-related role."
The BJP took a dig at Congress over possible appointment of Gandhi as prime ministerial candidate.
Party leader Ravi Shanker Prasad said: "I need to remind him (Rahul Gandhi) that it only happens in BJP that the person born into a humble tea vendor's family can be promoted to become a prime ministerial candidate because of his hard work, integrity and leadership and also record of good governance."
Prasad also termed as "laughable" Gandhi's remarks about "personality-oriented politics" of Modi
Political analyst Aswini K. Ray said that Gandhi would be appointed prime ministerial candidate Jan 17 as he has openly spoken of his willingness to take any responsibility.
"There is no way the Congress can renege from it now that he has said openly," said Ray, a political scientist.
Ray, however, said Gandhi's projection "was unlikely" to make a major difference to the Congress fortunes in the Lok Sabha polls.