New Delhi, March 21: The BJP has tried to underplay the Congress decision to field Rahul Gandhi from Amethi, with party leaders saying they would treat it like a normal political battle.
A senior BJP leader said the party would not go overboard in countering Rahul’s entry into electoral politics. “We are not going to bring extra glamour and glitz just because Rahul Gandhi is contesting,” said the leader.
No top BJP leader was willing to go on record. However, party general secretary Vijay Kumar Malhotra termed the decision to field Rahul “crass parivarwaad”.
Malhotra said the Congress decision showed that the 118-year-old party totally depended on children of the Gandhi family. Rahul, he said, has no experience or skill and his only qualification is that he is Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son. “That is why he is demanding the Prime Minister’s post. This is an example of rajtantra.”
Asked why he felt Rahul is a prime ministerial candidate, Malhotra explained that Sonia has already said she is not a candidate for the post. Thus, the only conclusion is that Rahul is the prime ministerial candidate, he said.
The BJP leader said Maneka Gandhi’s son Feroze Varun (who cannot contest the elections as he is only 24 and the eligibility age is 25) had already campaigned during the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls and has been doing work in a few constituencies.
Malhotra claimed that the BJP is not practising dynastic rule, overlooking that Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje is the daughter of the late Vijayaraje Scindia and that Union finance minister Jaswant Singh’s son Manvendra is also contesting the Lok Sabha polls.
National Democratic Alliance convener George Fernandes’ party said the decision to field Rahul “exposed (the) Congress’ weakness”. Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Shiv Kumar said: “The Congress can bring anyone. We are not worried. We know the Congress has become weak. By bringing him (Rahul) the party is showing its weakness and the dynasty established in the Congress.”
Fernandes said the Congress should be “ashamed” for not being able to name its prime ministerial candidate, despite having more than 120 years of experience, according to a PTI report from Salem in Tamil Nadu.
Fernandes expressed his surprise over the People’s Alliance in Tamil Nadu proposing him as the candidate for the top post. The NDA convener said he had come to attend the conference of the third front in Tamil Nadu.