Showing up is half the battle: Rahul Gandhi

The Congress on Friday mocked Prime Minister Narendra Modi for not taking any questions in his first appearance at a press conference, with party president Rahul Gandhi saying “showing up is half the battle”.

The Congress charge against Modi and Amit Shah was led by Gandhi after the PM showed up on the dais for a scheduled press conference by the BJP chief, who gave a report card on the performance of the NDA government as well as party’s extensive electioneering.

“Congratulations Modi Ji. Excellent Press Conference! Showing up is half the battle. Next time Mr Shah may even allow you to answer a couple of questions. Well done,” Gandhi tweeted.

Gandhi said it is “very impressive” to see the PM address his first press conference a few days before the Lok Sabha election results are out.  “The PM’s first press conference is coming 4-5 days before the election results. The PM is accompanying Amit Shah in the press briefing. It is unprecedented. Very good. I am told the doors have also been shut, as journalists who want to ask questions have been blocked. It is a great press conference,” he told reporters.

Gandhi addressed a press conference almost at the same time as Amit Shah and Modi did.  “I want to ask the Prime Minister why he did not hold a debate on the Rafale issue? I want to ask you why did you give Rs 30,000 crore to Anil Ambani. I was ready to come to Race Course road to hold a debate with Modi,” Gandhi said, posing a question at his press conference.

The Anil Ambani firm and the government have repeatedly denied allegations of corruption in the Rafale deal.

Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said in a tweet, “Never seen a press conference where someone else is answering questions on your behalf. There was no need to lower the dignity of the office of the Prime Minister just to prove a point.”

Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala also said on Twitter, “Modi ji’s first and last press conference became Amit Shah’s crutches…One hour speech, tired journalists and sermons to them, no question, no answer.”

Biggest party should lead government, says Surjewala

Holding that the biggest political party should get a chance to lead the government, the Congress on Thursday expressed hope that it will emerge as such after the results of Lok Sabha elections are out on May 23.

“Indian National Congress certainly believes and, subject to the final outcome on 23 May, that we will be the biggest political party in the country with the blessings of the people of India. Naturally, the biggest political party should get a chance to lead. However, what will happen on 23 May, I am not going to pre-empt and pre-judge today,” Congress Communications in charge Randeep Singh Surjewala told reporters here.

He said various opposition parties will get together and take an appropriate call on government formation after the results. Asked what if no party gets a simple majority in Lok Sabha, Surjewala said the norm is fairly well established, that “whoever has the largest number in pre-poll alliance is normally called first, as laid down by the Supreme Court.”