Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu on Saturday said that Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a strong leader who can "challenge" the ruling BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls and called on regional parties to come together to take on the saffron party.
"That is the only reason they are trying to block him," CM Sukhu said referring to his recent disqualification as a member of the Lok Sabha days after he was convicted by a Gujarat court in a criminal defamation case.
"Rahul Gandhi has emerged as a strong leader who can challenge the ruling BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls," Sukhu said while condemning the decision to disqualify him.
CM Sukhu said that the former Congress chief has become the voice of democracy and cited his Bharat Jodo Yatra undertaken to "strengthen the voice of democracy".
"Terming the decision of his disqualification as unfortunate, CM Sukhu said it is also a question of the dignity of the parliament. "Considering his popularity during the Yatra, they (BJP) had assumed that the only party and only leader who could pose a threat for them in 2024 elections is Congress party and Rahul Gandhi," Sukhu said.
"That is why they disqualified him in a short span of time," CM Sukhu added.Sukhu termed the attack on Rahul Gandhi as an attack on democracy. "There is a need to start a dialogue. If Rahul Gandhi wanted to become the Prime Minister, he was offered the post during the UPA rule. People are with the Congress party. We will be returning to power at Centre in the upcoming 2024 polls. It is a fight for justice against injustice," said Sukhu.
Underlining their importance, Sukhu felt that there is a need for regional parties to come together to fight against the anti-people policies of the BJP. "The time has come that a dialogue should be set up between regional parties," Sukhu said.
"The regional parties are restricted to their states. When a national party is attacked, it can also affect regional parties. National parties can withstand the pressure but the regional parties can't," CM Sukhu said. "One party is trying to set up its own monopoly and attempting to undermine democracy and institutions, another is fighting to save democracy," Sukhu added.