Three days after Congress President Sonia Gandhi projected Manmohan Singh as the prime ministerial candidate the next time round, the All India Congress Committee (AICC) on Monday suggested that the issue was still open.
"The issue is not on the table… the term of Parliament is not yet over. There are still seven-eight months to go for elections," spokesman Manish Tiwari.
Gandhi had said "certainly, why not?'' in response to a question whether Singh would unfurl the national flag at the Red Fort next time too.
Tiwari, however, blocked all queries on Sonia's remarks by asserting that it was not for him to interpret the Congress president's statement.
But last Saturday. his colleague Abhishek Singhvi was quoted as saying: "What is important is that the Congress-led UPA will come back to power and Manmohan Singh will be back as PM as stated by Congress President with emphatic certainty."
The issue of the PM candidate has been raised intermittently in Congress circles. In April, the AICC virtually snubbed leaders like Arjun Singh who sought to project Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate.
After Sonia's comments last week, Nationalist Congress Party spokesman DP Tripathi suggested that Singh, a Rajya Sabha member, should now contest Lok Sabha polls.
Samajwadi Party leader Mohan Singh said that decisions on PM candidate were settled by consensus and the party would go by consensus once it formally joins the UPA.