If the Congress accepts Mulayam Singh Yadav-Mamata Banerjee’s proposal to make Prime Minister Manmohan Singh the next President, it will open up the possibility for a complete overhaul of the government — a move that many say is necessary to get it back to fighting shape before the 2014 general elections.
If circumstances force such a situation, Congress can turn it to its advantage.
A new Prime Minister with a reshuffled council of ministers may be just be an antidote to the lingering perception of policy paralysis, though finding a replacement for Manmohan Singh may not be easy.
A section of Congress managers feel demand for Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to take over the reins of the government is likely to come up. But the problem is that he has not shown any inclination yet and instead, reiterated his preference to do an organisational job.
Gandhi’s entry is bound to rejuvenate it ahead of the next Lok Sabha polls to the advantage of the Congress, but he may have to face increasingly hostile allies and their pressure-tactics at every step, which the party may not like to experience for the remaining period of the government.
Finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, the senior-most minister in the UPA cabinet, can also come up as a stop-gap arrangement before 2014.
Mukherjee, seen permanently as PM in-waiting, is the key troubleshooter for the government. Lok Sabha Speaker Miera Kumar and Sushil Kumar Shinde are also seen as possible candidates for the PM’s slot given their legislative experience.
Defence minister AK Antony may also be an answer for the Congress, in case the party has to succumb under growing alliance pressure to elevate Manmohan Singh to Rashtrapati Bhawan.
Interestingly, Manmohan Singh had ruled out his candidature while returning from Myanmar last month.