'If Rahul Gandhi Accepts...': Sanjay Raut On INDIA's PM Candidate

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi won from both seats in Kerala and UP

New Delhi:

Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Sanjay Raut has backed the idea of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi becoming Prime Minister – if the situation ever arises – after the Opposition bloc INDIA’s better than expected performance in the Lok Sabha elections.

“If Rahul Gandhi is ready to accept the leadership, why would we object? He has proven himself as a national leader for multiple times. He is one of the popular leaders. We all want him and love him. There is no objection and difference in the alliance,” Mr Raut told reporters in Mumbai when asked whether they would accept Mr Gandhi as Prime Minister if the prospect opens up.

“Since the beginning of the elections, the INDIA alliance has no dissonance over the post of Prime Minister. This alliance has always fought to save democracy and the constitution from the dictatorial governance of the BJP and people have voted for us. Narendra Modi and Amit Shah should accept their defeat,” said the leader from the Shiv Sena (Uddhav Balasaheb Thackeray), or UBT, group.

Mr Raut also took a swipe at the support by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s Janata Dal (United) and Chandrababu Naidu’s Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), indicating at “two pillars of weakness”.

“The government they want to form with the support of two pillars – TDP and JD(U) – can be diminished at any moment. Modi ji has lost respect and the ‘Modi Brand’ is finished now. We don’t want such a Prime Minister now,” Mr Raut said.

Mr Raut indicated the INDIA bloc would be amenable to accepting Mr Kumar or Mr Naidu, as “both have always supported democracy”.

“The BJP doesn’t have a mandate. What if Chandrababu Naidu and Nitish Kumar decide to go ahead with democracy and work in a democratic system instead of their dictatorial regime? Whether it is Chandrababu Naidu or Nitish Kumar, both of them have always supported democracy and I don’t think they will support dictatorship,” Mr Raut said.

Mr Naidu yesterday extended support to the BJP and affirmed he is “a part of NDA”. “I have seen so many political changes in the country. I am in NDA. I am going to the NDA meeting. If there is anything else, we will report to you,” Mr Naidu told reporters in Vijaywada.

Both Mr Naidu and Mr Kumar are in Delhi, attending an NDA meeting post the announcement of election results.

The BJP won 240 seats, much lower than its 2019 tally of 303. The Congress saw strong growth, winning 99 seats. The INDIA bloc’s performance defied all predictions.

With inputs from ANI