Commenting for the first time after the controversy started, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday dubbed the debate over two power centres within the Congress “useless”.
Talking to the media on the sidelines of the Padma awards function, Singh also said he would welcome Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister any day. But he did not rule out the possibility of himself accepting a third term.
Singh’s comments came a day after Rahul Gandhi brushed aside questions on his candidature for future Prime Minister as “irrelevant” and “all smoke”.
After days of raging debate within the Congress that saw senior leaders such as Digvijaya Singh and Janardan Dwivedi locking horns over the “dual power centre” issue, the PM said, “This is the creation of the media. It is a useless debate.”
Digvijaya had said the two power centres — Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the PM — had not “worked well” and should not be repeated. The Congress had officially rejected his contention and said it was an “ideal model” for the future also.
Later, Congress spokesperson Rashid Alvi ruled out any contradiction between the stands of the Prime Minister and the party and added, “If you see the history of Congress, Prime Minister and party president had always been separate persons.”
When asked whether he would accept the third term as Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh said, “It is a hypothetical question. We are yet to complete this term.”
But when pressed by reporters if he was ruling himself out, Singh said, “I am not ruling it in, I am not ruling it out.”
As he was asked whether he would welcome Rahul Gandhi as the Prime Minister, Singh—who had earlier wanted Gandhi to join his cabinet on several occasions, replied, “Oh yes, any day.”
Alvi too claimed that at the CII platform Gandhi did not say that talks about his becoming PM are irrelevant.
“He only said that his becoming or not becoming the Prime Minister is not so important,” he added.
While the PM called Gandhi’s speech at Thursday’s CII summit as “excellent”, Congress said the government will take note of Gandhi’s “thoughtful and farsighted” speech that has given a direction.