Rahul Gandhi today dubbed poll surveys predicting that Congress could get just 100 seats in Lok Sabha polls as "joke", and said opinion polls are "not the law" and there is no question of Narendra Modi and BJP coming to power.
Holding a 'Google Hangout' with party workers, the first such interaction by any Congress leader, Gandhi also hit out at the main Opposition party over reports of an internal war within BJP over candidatures of senior leaders including Modi. "The talk of 100 seats is a joke and you have to understand that... the entire campaign of the Opposition is to demoralise you. If you are not demoralised, we shall smash them. If you do not have a doubt in your mind, we are getting 200 plus seats. The entire game is to demoralise the Congress workers, to create doubts in their mind," Gandhi said replying to a question on what would Congress do after polls if it gets about 100 seats.
"First of all we fought in 2004. Every single opinion poll said we are going to get thrashed. Congress won that election. In 2009, every single opining poll said we are going to get thrashed. We doubled our tally. We are now fighting a third election. They always say Congress will not do well. Let us not start with the assumption that opinion polls are the law. We have to fight a strong election," Gandhi seeking to dispel the notion that Congress out down in dumps and enthuse the cadres to go out in the field and propagate UPA government's achievements.
Asking the partymen from different parts of the country "not to fall in the Opposition trap", Gandhi said Congress is a party which believes in revolution while the BJP symbolises conservationism and status quo. "If you look at our Opposition, every single candidate is decided by one man. Their senior leaders are saying that every single candidate is decided by one man. They are heading in one direction and we are heading into entirely another direction," Gandhi said extolling the primary initiative of the party to select candidates.
To a query as to how Congress should fight the communal forces if Modi and his party come to power, Gandhi said, "we are going to win the next election. Therefore, BJP coming to power, their leader coming to power is a non-question."
With Modi being the polarising politician apparently on his mind, Gandhi said that hatred never wins in battle with love and harmony, which he described as the main idea of the Congress. "Love has always defeated hate. There is not a single example in history where hate has defeated law. Love has this habit of washing away hatred," Gandhi said.
Responding to questions as to how to strengthen and get back the vote base of Congress in states, Gandhi said," the biggest opportunity that Congress has, lies in states like West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar." Talking to workers from Punjab, he asked them to tell people of the state that Sikh farmers are being bashed up and chased away from Gujarat, while the BJP has an alliance with Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab. "What kind of partnership is this? They bash up and chase away Sikhs in Gujarat and have partnership with Akali Dal in Punjab. You take this message to people," Gandhi said admitting that Congress lost in the Assembly polls in the state due to "over-confidence".
During the interactions, Gandhi also faced some tough questions over groupism in Punjab unit of Congress and what say he could ensure to party workers in candidate selection for Lok Sabha candidates to which Gandhi said that solution lies in empowering workers in taking these decision and his initiative for primary is a step in that direction.
About Tamil Nadu, where Congress has failed to get any ally so far this time, Gandhi said people of the state are "tired" of the kind of politics going on there. "Tamil Nadu is one of the states, where in future, Congress has a huge opportunity. We can provide a fresh alternative in Tamil Nadu, a young alternative in Tamil Nadu.
We can actually do very well there. I am very confident," he said, giving an indication of the long-term goals he plans for Congress.
Paying tributes to slain Chhattisgarh PCC chief Nand Kumar Patel, who was killed in a Maoist ambush, Gandhi said that "Congress was in his blood. From party worker he had come to the level of becoming Chief Minister......If we get 30-40 such workers in each states, we will get 543 seats in Parliament."
While refusing to acknowledge that the party has no cadre base, he said that criticism could be that Congress did not listen to its cadres and involve them as much as it should have.