“Manmohan for Prime Minister if Congress has the numbers”
NEW DELHI: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday asserted that the party with the largest number of MPs in Parliament should decide the Prime Minister, and that his party would not compromise on the candidature of Manmohan Singh for the post if it has the numbers following the current round of elections.
While addressing a press conference here, Mr. Gandhi’s reply to separate questions on the possibility of the Congress supporting a Left government and Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar’s claim to the prime ministership was that such an option would be open if they had the numbers.
“If [the] NCP is the largest party, then that option is open. But, if the Congress emerges the single largest party, then we will decide.” And, to the related question on supporting a Left government, he said: “If the Left gets 180-190 seats, absolutely, we would support it. If they get these numbers, I will be the first to suggest that we extend support to them.”
Despite the Congress’ differences with the Left parties, he was confident that they would support a Manmohan Singh government. “I’m confident that the Left would rather have a Congress Prime Minister.”
Addressing the third in a series of press conferences in this election season — the first one was in Kochi and the second in Kolkata — Mr. Gandhi fielded all the questions that were put to him but remained non-committal about potential post-election allies.
He merely said all options would be open after the elections. “The field is open for post-poll alliances,” he said, pointing out that several party leaders, including Nitish Kumar of the Janata Dal (United) felt that the National Democratic Alliance would not win this election.
Asked whether the Congress was ready to sit in the Opposition as has been suggested by senior leader Digvijay Singh, the young leader said: “We think we are going to win this election. My personal view is that some time during the campaign, the fight went out of the Bharatiya Janata Party, which is why they have been searching for issues.”
About the Left, Mr. Gandhi said that despite the ideological disconnect that existed between them on certain issues such as the nuclear deal, the Congress still shared a reasonable amount of common space with the Left parties.