Cong plays down Manmohan's remarks, says people want Rahul as PM



New Delhi: Congress ministers on Friday downplayed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's remarks appearing not to rule out his being in the PM race for a third term but party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said people have a desire that Rahul Gandhi should be the Prime Minister.

Union minister and Congress leader Rajiv Shukla remarked that the Prime Minister had said nothing to suggest he was ready for a third term.

"In my view he was responding to a pointed question. And, what he said? He only said that when bridge will come we will decide how to cross it," he said.

Shukla also appeared to suggest that the media was giving different interpretations to Singh's remark.

"Dr Manmohan Singh is a very reluctant politician. But what is surprising is that few days after Holi, the reluctant politician has shown his true political colours. And that too being audaciously ambitious," BJP chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad told reporters in response to a question.

"Whether the comment of Manmohan Singh is more aimed at his foes in Congress or to put a question mark on Rahul Gandhi's claim for the post of Prime Minister, for which a consistent chorus is going on within the Congress, is entirely the internal matter of Congress," Prasad said.

The Prime Minister yesterday appeared not to rule himself out of the race for prime ministership after the next Lok Sabha elections.

Asked by reporters on Thursday whether he would accept another term in office if Congress president Sonia Gandhi offers him prime ministership again after 2014, Singh said: "these are all hypothetical questions. We will cross that bridge when we reach there".

Gandhi had recently maintained that asking him about prime ministership is putting a "wrong question" to him.

Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh had said that the model of having "two power centres" has not worked well and suggested that Rahul Gandhi should not opt to nominate a Prime Minister if the party gets a majority in the next Lok Sabha polls.

"... I strongly feel that ... when time comes and if the Congress gets majority or it is in a position to form the government, I think Rahul Gandhi should take the call.

"Even if a Congress-led coalition emerges, he (Rahul) is mature enough to handle the intricacies of coalition politics. Then ofcourse, we have senior leaders who have very successfully helped the UPA to complete two terms," Singh had said.

PTI