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'Manmohan to be UPA's PM candidate'

india Updated: Aug 15, 2008 17:32 IST

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Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday appeared to be declaring that Manmohan Singh would be the UPA's Prime Ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections.

"Why not, certainly", she said when asked by reporters at the AICC headquarters whether Singh would unfurl the national flag next year from Red Fort. Lok Sabha elections are scheduled early next year.

"Hopefully," was what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was by her side, replied when he was put a similar question.

Gandhi and Singh were speaking to reporters soon after the Congress president hoisted the tricolour at the party headquarters at Akbar Road in New Delhi.

The unfurling of the national flag on the Independence Day on Friday by the prime minister was the last in his tenure and for the fifth year in a row.

Gandhi's brief response to the query was significant in view of the fact that the Congress has so far been ambivalent on the issue and has been maintaining that the matter will be decided at the appropriate time when the election approaches.

Gandhi, who is the Chairperson of the UPA, her remarks have come at a time when political commentators are saying that Singh had come of age as a politician after he won the confidence vote in the Lok Sabha after staking his government on the Indo-US nuclear deal.