INDIA bloc to pick PM within 48 hrs, party with max seats 'natural claimant' to leadership: Ramesh

10:21 AM May 30, 2024 | PTI |

The INDIA bloc will get a “decisive mandate” in the Lok Sabha polls and may take even less than 48 hours to decide on its prime ministerial pick, Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said on Thursday, asserting that it stands to reason that the party which gets the maximum seats in the alliance will be a “natural claimant” for its leadership.


In an interview with PTI on the last day of campaigning for the seven-phase Lok Sabha polls, the Congress general secretary exuded confidence that the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) will get seats “well above” the 272-mark needed for a majority in the Lower House.

Ramesh also said that when the INDIA ‘janbandhan’ parties will get the people’s mandate, then some NDA parties may join the coalition and the Congress high command will have to decide whether to include them in the alliance or not.

Asked whether post-polls doors will remain open for NDA allies such as JD(U) chief Nitish Kumar and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu, the Congress leader said, “Nitish Kumar is the master of ‘palti (volte-face)’.

“Naidu was with the Congress in alliance in 2019. I would say when INDIA janbandhan parties will get the people’s mandate, then not only INDIA parties but also some NDA parties may join the coalition,” he said.


“The high command of the Congress, Kharge ji, Rahul ji, Sonia ji, will have to decide whether to include them in the INDIA bloc,” he said.

Ramesh said the difference between INDIA and NDA is of two I’s — I for ‘insaniyat’ and ‘I’ for ‘imaandaari’.

Those parties that have ‘imaandaari (honesty)’ and ‘insaniyat (humanity)’, but are in the NDA, will join the INDIA parties, he said.

Ramesh said an INDIA bloc government formed after getting the mandate from the people will be “authoritative” but not “authoritarian”.

“I think we are going to be large-hearted in victory — no politics of vendetta, no politics of vengeance. Interestingly, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is going to the famed Vivekananda Rock Memorial and be meditative for two days. The same Vivekananda memorial from where Mr Rahul Gandhi started the Bharat Jodo Yatra on September 7, 2022….I am sure he (Modi) is going to be meditating on what life is going to be after retirement,” he said.

Asked about his assessment of the political situation on the ground after six phases of polls, Ramesh said, “I don’t want to get into numbers but all I am saying is that we (INDIA bloc) will get a clear and decisive majority. 273 is a clear majority but it is not decisive. When I say clear and decisive, I mean well above 272 seats.”

He claimed the 2004 result when the Congress won the polls to form an alliance government despite the BJP’s ‘India shining’ campaign, will repeat itself in 2024. Ramesh also claimed that the Congress will make “handsome gains” in Rajasthan, Karnataka, Telangana and Maharashtra.

“We will improve our position in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Assam. In totality, we are headed for a 2004 type of a situation, ‘bees saal baad’,” he said.

Ramesh said that in Uttar Pradesh also the Congress will make gains and the BJP cannot improve on its 2019 tally of 62.

“They are not going to improve on 39 seats in Bihar, it is impossible, they are not going to improve on 18 seats in West Bengal, that is impossible,” he said.

Asked about the reported June 1 meeting of INDIA bloc partners, Ramesh said he does not have any authentic information that the meeting is going to take place that day but the INDIA bloc leaders will certainly meet.

“In 2004, the election results came out on May 13 and the UPA was formed on May 16. Dr Manmohan Singh’s name as PM was floated on May 17. It took less than three days for Dr Singh’s name to emerge, although everyone knew it was going to be Dr Singh after Mrs Gandhi had made her intentions very clear of not accepting the PM’s post, a great sacrifice on her part,” he said.

“But this time I don’t think it will take even 48 hours (to decide on the PM pick). Within a few hours the leader of the janbandhan (will be picked). It stands to reason that the party that gets the maximum seats in the ‘janbandhan’ will be a natural claimant for the leadership of the janbandhan,” he said.

Pressed further that the Congress is likely to be the party with most number of seats in the INDIA bloc, Ramesh said, “You can interpret my statement in whatever fashion you want but the fact is that in a janbandhan, all parties if they are going to participate in government…it stands to reason that the party that has the maximum number of seats, is going to lead that janbandhan in Parliament.”

On whether it would be easy to arrive at a consensus on the PM pick when stalwarts such as Mallikarjun Kharge, Sharad Pawar and Mamata Banerjee are part of the bloc, the Congress leader said the slogan of the alliance is ‘main nahin hum, mera nahi humara’.

On critics stating that such a diverse coalition may not be good for stability, Ramesh said Manmohan Singh running the UPA coalition government for 10 years was the best proof of it.

“We are committed to giving a stable, transparent, responsive and responsible government,” he said.

Ramesh said there will be a ‘janbandhan PM’ who will set the economy right.

“The BJP’s policy was ‘annadaataon ka apmaan aur chandadaataon ka samman’ (insult of farmers and honouring those giving donations). That will change. All exploitative tax schemes like the angel tax will go,” Ramesh said.


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