Rahul Gandhi, Congress president Image Credit: Gulf News archives

New Delhi: India’s largest opposition party president Rahul Gandhi has said he never had any conversation with Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

“[Modi] doesn’t talk to me. He meets and greets in monosyllables… he will say ‘hello’,” said Gandhi in an exclusive interview with Gulf News in New Delhi on Monday.

Gandhi, who became the president of Congress party in December 2017, however, does credit Modi for “gifting” him some lessons.

“Mr Narendra Modi has a lot of anger and a lot of what he says about me comes from that anger. But there are certain things that he says which I listen to. For example, the frame he uses against my family… there is an element of that frame which is hatred and anger. And there is another element that says ‘look, you come from a position where you have had certain advantages and it is true! I have to take into account that truth, I can’t deny the fact that my family was in politics,” he said.

Gandhi regretted that Modi doesn’t see the impact on violent deaths of his grandmother Indira and father Rajiv.

“But what Mr Narendra Modi doesn’t see is the pain that has come, the violence that has come, the lessons I have learnt.. You are handed cards and in every card has two sides. Mr Modi has certain disadvantages and advantages. The biggest that Mr Modi has given me is that I listen now, I listen very deeply.”

Rahul Gandhi: Don’t underestimate us in Uttar Pradesh

India’s Congress party is planning to fight elections alone in the Uttar Pradesh, a state that sends highest number of elected lawmakers, Gulf News can exclusively reveal.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News on Monday, ahead of his two-day visit to the UAE on January 11, Rahul Gandhi hinted that his party is ready to fight the state without an alliance of the opposition parties.

There are very interesting things that the Congress party can do in Uttar Pradesh... the Congress idea is very powerful for Uttar Pradesh. So, we are very confident of our ability in Uttar Pradesh and we will surprise people.

- Rahul Gandhi, Congress president

“There are very interesting things that the Congress party can do in Uttar Pradesh... the Congress idea is very powerful for Uttar Pradesh. So, we are very confident of our ability in Uttar Pradesh and we will surprise people,” he told Gulf News.

His comments came after media reports suggested that two outfits Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will not give Congress more than two out of 80 seats, effectively shutting out Gandhi’s party of an ambitious alliance that has the potential to derail Modi’s re-election bid.

The two seats are the Nehru-Gandhi family’s pocket borough of Rae Bareli and Amethi represented in Parliament by Gandhi’s mother Sonia and Rahul respectively.

This is the first time Gandhi has spelt out a Plan B after the SP and BSP decided to dump Congress in UP. Both these parties are supporting the Congress in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan where the party last month defeated Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and has a thin majority.

“We are trying to bring opposition together… I have heard some statements in the media but we are going to work together and make sure that we defeat Mr Modi. But, I just want to say again – to underestimate the Congress in UP is a big mistake,” Gandhi said, indicating that the Congress is now ready to go alone in the battle.

“Our first aim is to defeat [Prime Minister] Mr Narendra Modi. There are states where we are very strong and we are the primary party and are contesting the BJP directly. There are states where there are possible alliances – Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Bihar… where we are working out an alliance formula.

- Rahul Gandhi, Congress president

He was, however, confident of working out alliances in several other states and said Modi’s defeat is his top priority.

“Our first aim is to defeat [Prime Minister] Mr Narendra Modi. There are states where we are very strong and we are the primary party and are contesting the BJP directly. There are states where there are possible alliances – Maharashtra, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Bihar… where we are working out an alliance formula.

Watch this space for more updates on the exclusive interview.