External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday sought to dispel the notion of confusion in Congress ranks on how to take on Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in his quest for premiership.
Responding to an observation that there appeared to be confusion within the Congress on whether to counter Mr. Modi or ignore him, the Minister said: “There is no confusion. We are only trying to figure out at what level he should be taken on. He tends to blow himself up to larger than life. We want to take him on as per his actual size.”
Referring to recent reports about high incidence of malnourishment among children in Gujarat, Mr. Khurshid said this was in line with other empirical evidence of the State falling behind on various social indices despite the tall claims being made by Mr. Modi and his advocates.
That Congress would like to project the Modi bandwagon as a self-propelled endeavour to Race Course Road was evident from what another Cabinet member Anand Sharma had to say. Asked to comment on Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s statement that the next UPA government would be a younger one, Mr. Sharma said he was only reflecting the demographics of India with that statement; adding that the Congress had already infused new blood into the government.
“Rahul Gandhi has criss-crossed the length and breadth of India to understand the country. He has not first anointed himself and then embarked on a voyage of discovery of India,” Mr. Sharma said in a thinly veiled reference to Mr. Modi’s activities ever since his candidature for Prime Minister was announced.
As to who would lead the next UPA government — again in the light of Mr. Gandhi’s remarks — both remained non-committal; pointing out that it was not the Congress practice to name its prime ministerial candidate ahead of the elections. Mr. Khurshid also advised the media not to see the “young leadership” statement of Mr. Gandhi in isolation as he had also said that Dr. Singh was one of his two gurus in life; the other being his mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi.