Any person from outside Gandhi family should become next Cong chief, not Rahul Gandhi: Athawale

PTI, Oct 20, 2021, 7:55 PM IST

Union minister Ramdas Athawale on Wednesday suggested Congress should pick a person from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family as its next president instead of Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress, currently led by its interim president Sonia Gandhi, had last week announced that the election of its new president will be held between August 21 and September 20 next year.

“Congress is not able to find a president. Rahul Gandhi resigned as the AICC president after his party lost the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. Rahul should not become the party president again. Instead, any person from outside the Gandhi family should be made a Congress chief,” Athawale told reporters here.

He also defended the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) in the cruise ship drug case in which the agency had arrested Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan. Athawale said Aryan Khan was not arrested because he or his father is a Muslim.

“Hindus were also arrested along with him. He (Aryan) was arrested in connection with the use and possession of drugs and not because he is the son of Shah Rukh Khan or is a Muslim. Whoever is caught in a drug case has to face action,” said Athawale, who hails from Maharashtra.

The Union minister alleged drugs are supplied in huge quantities to some actors and directors of Bollywood. “There are several people consuming drugs in the film industry. The NCB is not arresting anybody deliberately,” he claimed.

Speaking about the ongoing agitation against the three agriculture laws, the Rajya Sabha MP said farmers are being misled by their leaders about the new laws. ”The farm laws are meant for the benefit of farmers. They should take a step forward as the government is ready for a dialogue with them,” he said. He blamed Pakistan for the recent spurt in terror activities in Jammu and Kashmir and reiterated that India should not play its scheduled T20 World Cup match against Pakistan.

He said the Centre is preparing a strategy to combat terrorism. ”There is a need to conduct another surgical strike against Pakistan, which needs to vacate PoK and stop terror activities,” he said.

Talking about the Lakhimpur Kheri incident, Athawale said the son of his cabinet colleague Ajay Mishra has been arrested and strict action would be taken against the guilty after the investigation.

Athawale said the Republican Party of India (RPI) faction headed by him is in favour of the caste-based Census. ”But the Centre thinks such an exercise will increase casteism in the country”, he added. Asked about the rising fuel prices, the Union minister said oil prices are going up in the entire world and the Centre and state governments should take note of this issue.

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