Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to address a press conference in early January, ahead of the All-India Congress Committee session on January 17 that will see the clamour for formally naming Rahul Gandhi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.
The press conference will be Singh’s second such interaction in his second term as the Prime Minister, which began in May 2009 though he has met five editors and a group of television editors once each. He had addressed a press conference in his first term (2004-2009).
The media interaction would give Manmohan Singh an opportunity to speak about his government’s achievements during the decade that the Congress-led coalition was in power under his leadership.
Rahul Gandhi has already set the pitch for the party’s campaign in the 2014 general elections at his FICCI speech a few days ago where he tried to address the concerns of the industry, pledged to take a hard stand on corruption in and outside the government and stood up for social welfare projects that the UPA had so anxiously pursued.
Growth and social welfare sustain each other and there can be no compromise on either, Gandhi told the industry leaders last weekend.
The interaction would give Singh a platform to speak about his personal plans post-2014.
In contrast to his previous remarks, the Prime Minister did describe Rahul Gandhi in September this year as an ideal PM candidate for 2014 and even added for effect, that he would be happy to serve under him.
The clarity on Manmohan Singh’s role in the post-2014 scenario would also be helpful to decide the timing for anointing Rahul Gandhi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate at or before the AICC session.
Senior minister Veerappa Moily had recently joined the chorus for naming Gandhi as the PM candidate, calling Gandhi “the most competent, ultimate leader... fit to be the Prime Minister of the country” and the real leader of the Congress party”.