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Sonia hint sparks debate on PM

delhi Updated: Aug 16, 2008 23:19 IST
HT Political Bureau
HT Political Bureau
Hindustan Times
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A debate seems to have been sparked within the UPA and Samajwadi Party over Manmohan Singh’s candidature for prime ministership in the Lok Sabha elections due next year.

A day after Sonia Gandhi appeared to project him as the alliance’s prime ministerial candidate next time round, key ally NCP suggested that he contest the Lok Sabha elections.

The SP, in a shift of stance, said any decision on the PM candidate has to be arrived at by consensus.

Other UPA allies are also bound to join the debate.

On Saturday, the NCP’s D.P. Tripathi welcomed Sonia’s announcement which, he said, cleared the uncertainty on the issue.

But he added a rider, saying Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP, should contest the Lok Sabha polls. Tripathi said this would strengthen the UPA.

Last week, NCP chief Sharad Pawar said he favoured Singh as the UPA’s PM candidate as he was “non-controversial’’ and that Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi would have to wait.

AICC spokesman Abhishek Singhvi dismissed Tripathi’s suggestion as “petty details’’.

He remarked: “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 the Congress president with emphatic certainty."

The SP, which helped Singh win the July 22 trust vote, was guarded. Without directly commenting on Sonia’s statement, the party’s chief whip in the Lok Sabha Mohan Singh said any consensus on the PM candidate could be made only after the SP formally joins the UPA. The Earlier, SP general secretary Amar Singh had said his party would contest the next Lok Sabha polls under Manmohan Singh’s leadership.