Senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh. (Photo: PTI)
SRINAGAR: The Congress' rally in Kashmir on January 30 after the Bharat Jodo Yatra ends is "not a coalition building exercise" or to build a platform for the 2024 general elections, party general secretary Jairam Ramesh said.
To a question at a press conference on whether some opposition leaders such as that of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Trinamool Congress not attending the event would be a setback, he said "No, absolutely not."
"I believe somebody from the BSP is coming. I am not entirely sure. But, I do not see the absence of anybody who has been invited as a setback. They may have other preoccupations," Ramesh claimed.
"The JD(U) president is in Nagaland on an election campaign. (JD(S) president) H D Deve Gowda has written to Rahul Gandhi, expressing full support and appreciation for the Yatra, but expressed his inability to come personally. So, I do not see this as a setback," he said.
Ramesh said as a courtesy an invite was extended to the parties to take part in the event.
"The flag hoisting ceremony at the Pradesh Congress Committee office in Lal Chowk will mark the formal conclusion of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. So, the opposition parties have been invited to take advantage of the ending of the Bhatar Jodo Yatra," he said.
Asked if this was a step towards projecting Rahul Gandhi as a prime ministerial candidate, Ramesh said, "Our duty is to take out Bharat Jodo Yatra. We will see what happens afterwards. But, we are not focusing on its result or how many seats will we get 0r whether our vote share will increase."
The Congress general secretary said the rally at S K Stadium on January 30 was not a coalition-building exercise or building a platform for the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
"The function is an invitation extended in good faith to like-minded political parties who we believe oppose the policies and the programmes of the BJP. It is not to build a platform for 2024 (general elections)," he said.
The Congress general secretary said the party would begin talks and political negotiations after the march.
"But, any opposition platform to defeat the BJP must be based on two realities -- one the Congress must be the pivot or the fulcrum of any opposition alliance. Without the Congress, no opposition alliance is relevant or meaningful.
"The other reality is that any opposition alliance must be based on constructive agenda, not just a negative agenda of anti-BJP-ism or anti-governmentism or anti-this regime. It must be a positive, constructive agenda. This is not the business of the Bharat Jodo Yatra. The yatra has nothing to do with elections," he said.