Ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections, Congress leader Kanhaiya Kumar has claimed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) are the same team with one following the other.
Kumar also said the BJP is an ideological and cadre-based party and the Congress is its only natural opponent which can provide an alternate ideology in the country.
The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has been trying to project itself as the BJP's main contender in the Gujarat Assembly elections.
The state polls will be held in two phases on December 1 and 5 and the counting of votes will be taken up on December 8.
Kumar said the perception in the country is "what Gujarat thinks today, India thinks tomorrow."
"Many new things start from here (Gujarat). We hope there will be a political messaging from here. If people are happy with the BJP, let them choose it, but if people want a change then they will give a chance to the Congress, I hope so,” the former JNU student leader said.
Gujarat can give a "milestone" result in the 2022 Assembly elections, added Kumar, who was in the BJP-ruled state last week to participate in the Congress's 'Parivartan Sankalp Yatra'.
"The BJP realised in 2017 that it would not win the next Gujarat elections, so it has brought the AAP here. There is no question of A and B team, the BJP and AAP are the same team. One is following the other," he claimed.
"When (Prime Minister) Modi and Kejriwal have the same dreams, what is the ideological difference between them? Amidst the politics of hate, violence and polarisation, you want to do your politics by remaining mum on it, so where is the ideological difference?” said Kumar, who was in the Communist Party of India (CPI) before joining the Congress last year.
Kumar is of the firm opinion that the Congress need not budge an inch from its core ideology as the present surge in favour of the BJP will subside soon and people will realise that to go on the path of religious division is not the right way for the nation.
The Congress leader also said that with the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', in which he is also participating, the negative perception about Rahul Gandhi created by the opponents is going away.
“The BJP is an ideological and cadre-based party. We have to understand that if a party is not ideological or cadre- based it cannot challenge the BJP in India, it cannot be an alternative to the BJP,” Kumar said.
“The Congress is the natural opponent of the BJP in the country. The Congress is the only party which has taken power back from the BJP in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh,” he said to a question on the likelihood of the AAP eating into the Congress votes in a three-cornered contest in Gujarat.
What happened in the recent elections in Goa and Uttarakhand? The BJP benefitted due to the division of votes, he said.
In Goa, anti-incumbency against the chief minister was very high, but they (BJP) won, he said.
"In Uttarakhand, we managed to defeat the chief minister but even then we lost,” Kumar noted.
“One idea of India is the Congress's idea where it wants to take every section of society forward. The spirit of the Constitution says the vote of Ambani and his driver has the same value. But, the idea of India of the BJP is to loot the driver’s wealth and bring it to the safe deposit vault of Ambani,” he claimed.
Kumar said that only the Congress give an alternate ideology in the country.
"The Congress need not budge a bit from its core ideology, even though the party may face challenges. The BJP's surge is temporary and when people will realise that we cannot live on Hindu-Muslim politics forever, they will soon return to the basic issues of unemployment, price rise, and will shun that party,” he said.
Kumar said he is part of the ongoing 'Bharat Jodo Yatra', led by senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, from day one and that they they walk for 20 to 25 kms in a day.
"This is a unique experience, what impact the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' will have on elections is a thing of future, but it does have an impact on your emotions,” he said.
There are three aspects of this yatra - one is the internal impact, then there is the social impact and the third impact will be on party, he said.
Asked if he is happy about choosing politics as a career, Kumar said, “Nobody will be totally happy with the situation they are in, except a true sadhu. 'Sabko mukammal jahan nahi milta’ (nobody gets all that they want). But when I have come into this profession, I would like to justify my presence here."