Unfazed by repeated taunts of BJP leader L K Advani, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided not to contest Lok Sabha elections and other parties do not see any wrong in it.
There were Prime Ministers earlier who had been members of the Rajya Sabha but Singh is the first incumbent PM who does not want to contest.
The 76-year-old economist-turned-politician is the first leader in Congress outside the Gandhi-Nehru family to have been made the PM candidate after a five year at the helm.
Congress spokesman Abhishek Singhvi dismisses as “futile” the controversy raised by L K Advani favouring a constitution amendment to ensure that the Prime Minister should be from the Lok Sabha.
Singhvi insists that the Supreme Court has already debunked the argument. “What is more important is to have a man of great respect and integrity with global reputation”.
NCP’s D P Tripathi agrees but says that it would be true to democratic traditions if Singh contests. The Left parties accuse both the Congress and BJP of making a mockery of parliamentary democracy by nominating PM candidates.
The NCP is part of the Congress-led UPA. Tripathi, who is the party General Secretary, feels that Singh could win from any Lok Sabha seat from any part of the country.
CPI’s National Secretary D Raja, articulating the Left viewpoint, says that in the parliamentary system, there is no direct election of the Prime Minister and people vote for political parties after considering their policies.
He says that it is the prerogative of the party or the coalition which wins majority to elect its leader.
The Prime Minister had himself said on Tuesday that he has no plans to contest.
He had cited Constitutional provisions to show that a Rajya Sabha member can be the Prime Minister and had spoken of the need to remain away from the rough and tumble as he requires some time to recover after the recent bypass surgery.
Congress President Sonia Gandhi has backed Singh to the hilt as the PM candidate and making it clear that though there might be several claimants but no one can match him.
In 1999 Lok Sabha elections Singh, who was then Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, had unsuccessfully contested from south Delhi constituency.
Singh is a Rajya Sabha member from Assam since he entered politics in 1991 and an AICC member from that state as also from Punjab. Punjab PCC had requested him sometime back to contest from the state and Amritsar was talked of as the constituency.