The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Stubborn’ Rahul puts foot in mouth

New Delhi, Sept. 15: Rahul Gandhi has rocked the Congress and Rashtriya Janata Dal by saying there has been “no trace of governance” in Bihar under governor Buta Singh’s rule.

The young Amethi MP’s remark comes at a time when the two allies fear their poll campaign could be derailed by a Supreme Court stricture against Buta on September 20.

Rahul’s stinging comment, made in an interview to Tehelka news magazine, contradicts his party’s claim that central rule has improved law and order in the state.

Rahul may have unwittingly emboldened the Janata Dal (United)-BJP combine, whose leaders accuse Laloo Prasad Yadav of presiding over “jungle raj” in Bihar. They, along with Lok Janshakti Party’s Ram Vilas Paswan, say central rule has changed nothing.

The Amethi MP said governance has collapsed in Bihar and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh. “You can travel right across these two states but you won’t find a trace of governance here,” he said.

“There is no functioning government in UP and Bihar; and so there is no governance. There is a total collapse of the administrative system' Nothing happens here.”

Then why was his party backing the Mulayam Singh government in Uttar Pradesh and joining hands with Laloo Prasad in Bihar' Well, that is something for the elders in his party to decide, Rahul said.

“There are senior Congress leaders involved in this, and they take the decisions.”

But he also said the issue of support may be more complex. “It is not just the issue of support; there are lots of other things. These are tricky questions and a lot of people ask me about this. But it doesn’t work that way ' that one fine day we decide we don’t want to go along with them and that’s it. It is a complex issue.”

In the course of the interview, in Amethi, Rahul said he could have been Prime Minister when he was 25 ' that is, a decade ago. But he preferred to gain experience first.

“I could have been Prime Minister at the age of 25 if I wanted to. But I decided I wouldn’t do things in that fashion. I would not go around yelling at my seniors,” he said.

He also asserted that he was not a reluctant entrant into politics. Such talk was “bullshit”.

Rahul said he is stubborn and independent and that once he makes up his mind, neither his mother Sonia nor sister Priyanka can make him change his decision. “My mother can tell me one hundred times, but I won’t do something I don’t want to do,” Rahul said.

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