NEW DELHI : Vishwajit Rane, who quit the Congress to join the BJP last week, says that party Vice-President Rahul Gandhi is "non-serious" and an inaccessible leader and under his leadership the grand old party would be reduced to just 20 seats in the 2019 general election. "Congress has a non-serious leader called Rahul Gandhi. He is not serious about the people of the state who give you a mandate, not serious about government formation.
He is not even accessible. Seriousness of a leader is very important for a party to grow," Rane, son of former Goa Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane, said in an interview to IANS.
Rane, who was elected from the Valpoi assembly constituency in the February 4 polls, resigned from the Congress accusing the party leadership of letting go the opportunity to form a government despite emerging as the single-largest party with 17 MLAs.
Later, he also quit as Congress MLA. He had gone missing during a trust vote in the House last month, which the Manohar Parrikar-led BJP coalition won with 22 MLAs backing his government, while the Congress got the support of 16 legislators.
Rane said if Rahul Gandhi continues to be the leader of the Congress, then in the 2019 general elections the party would be reduced to 20 seats in the Lok Sabha.
He said the Congress was "heading in no direction" under Rahul Gandhi. "If this is the nature in which you want to take the party forward, then I am confident in 2019 from 44 they will be reduced to 20," he said.
"I don't see any such leader emerging in the Congress party. I don't see any future for the Congress party in the next 10 years," Rane said, asked if there was any leader in the party who could challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2019.
Continuing his attack on Gandhi, Rane said: "Rahul Gandhi should have been available on his phone when there were serious issues happening in Goa like election of the CLP leader, deciding unanimity and bringing everybody together, talking to the probable candidates."
He blamed Rahul Gandhi and party General Secretary in-charge of Goa Digvijaya Singh for the "mess up" in Goa, and blamed Gandhi for being "inaccessible" in times of need.
"The whole mess in Goa was done by Digvijaya Singh. I feel he wanted to see the Congress out of power. He did everything possible to ensure that the Congress sits in the opposition.
"And he has put the final nail in the coffin by electing a CLP leader, Babu Kavlekar, who did not attend a single meeting of the Congress Legislative Party (CLP) in the past five years..That was the end of Congress party in Goa," said Rane.
However, he had good things to say about Congress President Sonia Gandhi. "Sonia Gandhi is different. She was much more approachable and hands-on," said Rane.
Rane said even his father was not happy with the present day functioning of the Congress.
"I don't think even he is very happy with the functioning of the Congress in the state. A man (Kavlekar) was made the leader of opposition by Rahul Gandhi who never attended a single CLP meeting in the last five years.. A man (Pratapsinh Rane) who has won 11 times has to sit as an ordinary MLA, which is quite insulting," he said.
Rane, however, rejected the possibility of his father joining the BJP.
"He has accepted the idea of my joining BJP. My father's blessings are there with me... I have informed him but his views are different politically and mine are different. I have taken a different political course.. Sometimes, in life there are some changes in course."
- Sidhartha Dutta