Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said "a government of the youth" will come to power in 2014 which will work for the poor and "change" the country, comments that triggered speculation whether he would take a leading role after the next polls.
Addressing a public meeting here, the Congress Vice President attacked opposition parties, saying they have been trying to scuttle the UPA's initiatives for common and poor people like laws on Food Security and Land Acquisition, but the Manmohan Singh government pushed these in a determined manner.
"If you have to win election in India, help the poor, work for them -- you will win. What they (opposition) do, they don’t go to the poor, but make tall claims in the media, hold press conferences," he said.
"The elections of 2014 are approaching. You see, a government of the poor, of the common man will again be formed. And I tell you, in 2014, a government of the youth will be formed, which will change the country. It will bring change by empowering the last man in the queue," Gandhi said.
The comments were seen as the 43-year-old Congress leader taking the lead role, if his party comes to power after the next Lok Sabha elections.
Talking about the initiatives taken by the UPA government for the farmers, peasants and the poor people, he said it was making an endeavour to ensure that nobody sleeps hungry.
"Lakhs of people used to sleep hungry in the country which has now been changed forever with the Food Security law. There can be nothing bigger than this initiative," Gandhi said.
He said it would also address the problem of pilferage in the PDS system, which he said accounts for up to 25 per cent.
Rahul Gandhi said that while the Right to Food security guaranteed highly subsidised foodgrains to people across the country, the opposition parties had tried hard to block the bill in Parliament.
"For three years, we fought for it. Perhaps you don’t know how Soniaji, Manmohanji and I fought," he told the gathering in Uttar Pradesh.
"Earlier, the slogan used to be 'aadhi roti khayenge, Congress ko jitayenge' (we will have half bread but ensure victory for Congress). Now the slogan has changed. It is now 'pet bhar ke khayenge, Congress ko jitayenge' (Our stomachs will be full and we will ensure victory for Congress)," he said.
While talking about the Food Security Act under which two-third of the country's population will have the right to subsised food, he targeted the Samajwadi Party government of Uttar Pradesh, saying it does not want to implement the scheme in the state fearing that it would benefit the Congress.
"They (SP government) say it should be implemented in UP after the 2014 elections. I think, they are scared the scheme brought by Congress would hurt them electorally," Gandhi said.
He also referred to the new Land Aquisition law brought by the UPA, saying it would benefit not only farmers but also those who work on those fields.
The Congress leader accused the opposition parties of giving misleading figures on growth as he contended that the country had never seen such growth as was witnessed during the UPA rule of last nine years.
He was also dismissive about the opinion polls, saying such surveys had predicted a loss for the Congress in 2004 because of 'India Shining' campaign as also in 2009 but these proved incorrect.
In his speech, Gandhi lauded the role of women, saying states with women at the helm have progressed well. In this connection, he referred to Tamil Nadu as an example.
He also made a strong pitch for making politicians and bureaucrats answerable to people by opening their doors.