Sonia Gandhi has virtually made it clear that Manmohan Singh would continue to be the party’s Prime Ministerial face and the performance of the Congress-led UPA government is a “critical plank” for the party in the forth coming Lok Sabha polls.
“He has led the UPA government with great distinction. He has many more years of service both to the party and to our country. We look forward to his continued leadership and his inspiration to the younger generation particularly,’’ Sonia wrote in her ‘Letter to Congresspersons’ in the latest issue of the party’s in-house organ Congress Sandesh. She praised his wisdom, sagacity, humility, simplicity, sobriety, dignity and quiet and firm resolve.
Sonia had hinted at Manmohan Singh as the PM candidate in August 2008. When asked whether Singh would once again unfurl the tricolour in 2009, Sonia had said, “Certainly, why not?’’
On Thursday, when asked whether Singh was the next PM, Congress spokesperson Jayanthi Natarajan’s response was: “He is the PM and there is no vacancy for the post.’’
There has been speculation about Singh whether he would be the PM candidate and whether he would contest the Lok Sabha polls. While Sonia’s comment are seen as significant on the first count, Singh has been invited by various Congress units to contest from their states. The list included Punjab and Assam that he represents in the Rajya Sabha.
Local leaders in the Assam PCC said on condition of anonymity that CM Tarun Gogoi and state unit chief Bhubaneswar Kalita have made a case for the PM to contest from either Guwahati or Barpeta. But the CM’s office has denied any such move.
There are two views in the Congress over Singh’s candidature. Asked if Singh would contest, a Minister said, “In this health?’’ But a section believes that Singh will not have to campaign intensively if he contests.
“He is a brand… Why should he not contest?’’ said another leader adding “this has to be decided by him and Sonia”. Singh will miss the February 8 block and district committee’s national convention but his message will be read out. Sonia will direct the delegates to propagate the UPA’s achievements and get a feedback on the ground situation.Rahul Gandhi is also expected to speak.