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HindustanTimes Thu,23 Oct 2014

Pawar ducks questions on Rahul's projection as PM

PTI  New Delhi, January 31, 2013
First Published: 22:17 IST(31/1/2013) | Last Updated: 22:19 IST(31/1/2013)

Key Congress ally NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Thursday ducked questions on projection of Rahul Gandhi as UPA's prime ministerial candidate saying he does not know him "as a person, his capacity and response of the masses to him".

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Talking to reporters, the Union agriculture minister also steered clear of questions whether the 2014 general election would be a Rahul Gandhi versus Narendra Modi affair.

"It is Congress party's internal decision. If it gets strengthened, UPA will become strong," Pawar told reporters when asked about the young leader being made vice-president of the party, thereby projecting him as the future leader and potential prime minister.

On whether Rahul's elevation will be beneficial for the Congress, he said: "How can I say. I do not know him (Rahul) as a person, I don't know his capacity and response of masses to him".

This is for the first time that any UPA constituent has spoken on the leadership of Rahul Gandhi.

Asked how he sees the possibility of a Rahul vs Modi tussle in the next general election, Pawar said that he would not like to comment until and unless there is some definite proposal from the two sides on the issue and acceptance by everyone concerned.

There is no communication from the Congress party on PM candidate, he said, adding that it is "too early" to announce the name of the leader for the 2014 general election.

"We are with the Congress Party. We are not with (any individual). Whether to welcome or oppose it, how I am concerned?," said Pawar when asked to react  to Rahul's elevation and whether his party will be able to vibe with him.

"In a younger leadership in any political party, there is a possibility that younger sections of the society might consolidate but one has to see," he said, striking a cautious note on impact of Rahul's elevation.

On Modi, he suggested that the Gujarat chief minister's stature has grown as the Congress "has not played its cards properly" in Gujarat. He was asked as to why corporate India appeared to back Modi.


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