Opposition parties should come together: Sonia Gandhi

Mumbai: Former Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Friday said all opposition parties should consider the larger picture vis-a-vis the politics and come together to fight and defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party in the 2019 General Elections.

“It is difficult for all the parties, including the Congress, because… while we can get together at the national level, on some issues we are opponents at the ground level.”

“So, there is a lot of pressure from all the parties, from my party, from the party of another leader. For instance, in West Bengal and many other states, it is a difficult task,” Gandhi said during an interactive session at India Today conclave here.

“But if all of us think of the larger picture, if we really think and care for the country, then we should not think about local differences which really deal with state politics.”

Asked about the proposed dinner to be held for leaders of opposition parties on March 13, Gandhi said: “I am no longer President of the party. But yes, I am Chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party… and I do sort of meet (Congress chief and her son) Rahul Gandhi and some party colleagues. We try to have regular meetings with like-minded parties to see if we can work together.

“We have worked together in the past. In Parliament, especially in the Rajya Sabha, there is a certain amount of coordination. I do that,” she said.

As for her daughter Priyanka Vadra joining politics, the Congress leader said: “Priyanka always comes out during the elections to manage, at least mine. Last time, also for Rahul. At the moment, she has two grown-up children who are sitting in exams. She is preoccupied with a lot of work. It is up to her. I don’t see it now… but one never knows about the future.”

As for Rahul’s visit to his grandmother in Italy when election results from three northeastern states were pouring in, she said: “I do not see it as an issue at all. Of course, he has become the party President. There are plenty of leaders who take holidays in between. You never hear about it; I know about it.”

Gandhi said she was not too fond of slogans, empty promises and ‘jumlas’ during electioneering.

“What do they mean? What are these ‘jumlas’? If you go into elections, you don’t lie to the people and offer to them or tell them that you are going to do things for them that you know you would never be able to implement.

“Many politicians do that, I always try not to. In this particular party (BJP), this is what they are doing. Even today, they are promising — they are making promises which they know they cannot implement.”

Gandhi said public speaking was never her forte. “It’s a course I pursued at a Delhi institute that helped me speak in Hindi publicly. It was very difficult in the beginning. But, slowly, slowly I learnt. Public speaking is not my forte… as you all know. And Hindi is even more… stressful. But, I do speak Hindi,” she said in a lighter vein.