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Will Arvind Kejriwal Accept Rahul Gandhi As PM? What He Said

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (File).

New Delhi:

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday distanced himself from speculation he could become the next Prime Minister – if the Congress-led INDIA bloc wins the Lok Sabha election.

He also sidestepped questions about Rahul Gandhi as a prime ministerial candidate, saying no such discussion had taken place and that the INDIA bloc would take a decision after the election results.

Mr Kejriwal pointed out the AAP is a “small party… contesting only 22 seats” in this election; the comment has been seen as indicative that his chances of being PM, at this time, are remote.

Speaking to news agency PTI, he said, “I don’t have any intention of becoming the next PM if INDIA bloc wins.” The AAP leader – on bail after his arrest in the liquor policy case – said his aim is to save the nation from a “dictatorship”, alleging opposition leaders will be jailed if the BJP comes back to power. 

“The polls are for saving the country and democracy from prevailing dictatorship. They (referring to the BJP without naming the party) will finish democracy if they come back to power,” Mr Kejriwal said.

This is not the first time Mr Kejriwal has had to answer the question of an INDIA PM face.

Last week, at a press conference in Lucknow, the AAP chief responded with a categorical “No, I am not” when asked if he is in the running to become PM in the event of an INDIA win.

READ | Kejriwal Was Asked If He May Be INDIA Bloc’s PM Face. His Reply

The INDIA grouping – formed in June last year to unite the opposition and stop Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP from claiming a third term – is contesting sans a candidate for the top job. The BJP, on the other hand, continues to fight from behind Mr Modi’s larger-than-life shadow.

The BJP has often mocked its rivals for not naming a PM candidate or even an alliance figurehead, which it has claimed underlines persistent rifts that reflect incompatible political ideologies.

NDTV Exclusive | Shah Mocks AAP Promises, Says “They’re Fighting 22 Seats”

Earlier today Home Minister Amit Shah – campaigning in Bengal’s Ghatal – ripped into the opposition, declaring they had failed to name a candidate because they had no leader of that calibre. In a thinly-veiled swipe at the Congress, Mr Shah said his rivals only sought to extend their “dynasty”.

The opposition “does not have leaders or any intention to develop the country” he raged, and repeated his attack from last week; at rallies in Bihar the union minister claimed the INDIA bloc “doesn’t have a PM face (and) have decided to rotate the PM’s chair among themselves”.

“The INDI alliance doesn’t have any leaders. The INDI alliance wants five PMs in five years. The INDI alliances neither have leaders nor have any intention for the development of the nation,” he said.

The ‘dynasty’ jibe is a favoured BJP attack on the Congress and the Gandhi family. It was extended Tuesday by Mr Modi to Samajwadi Party boss and ex-Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

READ | “Can’t See Beyond Family”: PM Jabs Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav

Congress MP Rahul Gandhi – widely seen as the opposition’s leading PM face – last month outlined the bloc’s plans in this regard. He said a candidate would be chosen after the election result.

READ | When Will INDIA Decide PM Candidate? Rahul Gandhi Says…

The selection of a candidate, he stressed, would be made by all INDIA constituents.

“INDIA bloc has decided we are, together, fighting an ideological election. After winning the election (questions like) ‘who will be the leader’, ‘who will be the PM’… the coalition will jointly decide.”

Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge offered a similar answer as far back as November, telling NDTV his party was against projecting any one individual to be sucked into a head-to-head against Mr Modi.

READ | “Projecting PM Face May Break INDIA Unity”: Mallikarjun Kharge

He said the focus had to first be on winning the election.

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