“Fascism is already there… Parliament is dysfunctional,” Rahul told an Italian newspaper.

In a rare interview with the Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi discussed his experience during the ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra,’ how Prime Minister Narendra Modi could be defeated in the upcoming election, fond memories of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi, and why he is still single at the age of 52.

Gandhi argued that the yatra was more akin to a ‘Tapasya’ based on the insights gained by the Congress leader upon conclusion of the voyage (sacrifice).

“… everyone’s limits, including my own, are much beyond what we believe. Tapasya is a word in Sanskrit, the oldest language in the world, that is difficult for a Western mind to comprehend. Someone may translate it as “sacrifice” or “patience,” but the actual meaning is to generate heat. Gandhi stated that the march is an action that generates warmth, compels introspection, and reveals the incredible tenacity of the Indian people.

Gandhi acknowledged the existence of polarisation between Hindus and Muslims, but emphasised that the situation was not as dire as portrayed by the media under the government’s aegis, and that it was more of a tool to distract people from more dire real issues such as “poverty, illiteracy, inflation, the post-covid crisis of small, indebted entrepreneurs and landless farmers.”

Gandhi responded to a question regarding India and fascism by stating, “Fascism is already there. Democratic structures crumble. Parliament is currently inactive. Since two years ago, I have been unable to talk; as soon as I speak, they remove my microphone. The balance of power is unbalanced. Justice is not autonomous. The concept of centralism is absolute. The media are no longer independent.

On being asked if Prime Minister Narendra Modi could be defeated in the upcoming election, the Congress leader expressed faith in the unity of the opposition and stated that the Bharatiya Janata Party would be destroyed 100 percent if the other parties united.

“…it is certain that he (Prime Minister Modi) can be defeated. If you reject a vision that is not related to the right or left, but rather to peace and union. Fascism is defeated when an alternative is presented. According to Rahul, “if two visions of India face off in the election, we will be able to prevail.”

He refrained from commenting on the Russia-Ukraine conflict, stating that it was a question of foreign policy, but he did advocate for “peaceful solutions.”

The former Congress president elaborated on his perspective on India-China ties by stating, “Of peaceful competition. I do not believe the West is industrially competitive with China, especially in low-value-added industry. India should and can be. Because of the tenacity of her people.”

When asked about his relationship with India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, the representative from Wayanad stated that he had never seen Nehru, but that he considered him his “mentor.”

Gandhi stated, however, that his grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi favoured him.

Gandhi, relating a story about Rahul and Indira’s close relationship, stated, “I disliked spinach and peas. But, my father Rajiv was quite rigorous and expected me to complete everything. Afterwards, my grandmother would hand me the newspaper and instruct me to read. It was the agreed-upon signal, concealed by the newspaper: I had dropped peas or spinach on her plate.”

Gandhi revealed that his grandmother was certain of her demise, and that she had informed him personally about it, begging that he not cry when the time came… “at minimum not in public.”

The Congress leader also made the astonishing accusation that Rajiv Gandhi was aware of his impending death, stating: “I do not know if he knew that he would be killed by the Tamil Tigers. Nonetheless, he believed that a concentration of energies, interests, and forces would have cost him his life.”

Yet, Gandhi denied reports that he feared for his life. “There is no cause for alarm. I do what is necessary.”

He also claimed that he would like to have children, but was uncertain as to why, at age 52, he was still unmarried.

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