New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi launched a blistering attack on the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government on Friday, accusing it of having “gone to war" against the people of the country, while predicting a win for his party in four of the five forthcoming Assembly elections.

The opposition party leader also declared his willingness to be Prime Minister if the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is defeated in the 2019 general elections and should the allies of the Congress want him to.

A war was on between the ideology of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the parent body of the BJP, and the world view of the various political parties ranged against the RSS, Gandhi said at the 16th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit in New Delhi.

“India has been imagined and reimagined for centuries. They imagined a tolerant and fair India. What has happened that we need a reimagination of this beautiful idea? What we see today is a defaming and maligning of the Indian vision. The Indian government has gone to war with its people. It wants to impose its ideology on the people.

“Unemployment is at a 20-year high. The informal sector has been decimated. Public confidence is in tatters. Aspiration is turning into anger. Institutions are attacked and destroyed. Today, India is in fear," Gandhi said.

Gandhi expressed confidence about the outcome of the forthcoming Assembly elections in five states and said the Congress would win Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Telangana. He also said his party would win “a lot" of seats in the 2019 general elections.

“We have had a discussion with the allies and decided that the decision on prime minister is a two-stage process. Stage one is defeating the BJP. Stage two, after the election, we will decide on who will become Prime Minister. If they want me to, I would become Prime Minister," Gandhi said.

The Congress president, while talking about the recent decision of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati to contest elections alone in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan, drew a distinction between alliances in assembly polls and those in general elections.

“The alliance in states and Centre are different. I was more flexible than some of our state leaders. While we were amidst conversation, they (BSP) decided to go their way. I think we will win the election in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. At the national level, I can see us coming together, especially in Uttar Pradesh," he said.

In the course of a discussion after his address, the Congress president also raised questions on the policy decisions of the government, saying the NDA must answer why unemployment was rising, farmers are committing suicide, and small and medium businesses are in disarray.

Gandhi said if the Congress comes back to power in 2019, it would strengthen small and medium enterprises, provide critical support to farmers, and build a low-cost, high-quality medical and education infrastructure.

Replying to a question on the steps needed to generate employment, he said banks should open up for small and medium businesses and agriculture should be linked with industry to not only create jobs but also boost economic development.

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