Congress on Friday dismissed as a "non-starter" PA Sangma's challenge to UPA nominee Pranab Mukherjee for a debate ahead of the Presidential polls, noting that the President is not supposed to manage the economy.
He also downplayed as 'idle talk' suggestions that the Congress is coming closer to Janata Dal (U) which broke ranks with BJP-led NDA and announced its support to Mukherjee.
"The Constitution does not ordain or mandate that the President of India manages the economy of the country. Therefore, the suggestion for the debate is non sequitur (a statement that does not logically follow the previous statement) and non-starter," Party spokesperson Manish Tewari told reporters in New Delhi.
He was responding to questions on Sangma's virtual challenge to Mukherjee for a debate alleging the country's economy is in a mess and "scams unmanageble".
"We are not in the habit of shooting the breeze (chat idly). We are narrowly focussed on the Presidential elections", he said.
He was asked that JD-U leader Shivanand Tewari's statement that Mukherjee was not responsible for the mess in the Indian economy showed the growing proximity between Congress and the NDA constituent.
On questions whether Trinamool Congress will remain an ally of the UPA even if the party votes against Mukherjee in the Presidential poll, he said "spokespersons are trained not to answer questions that begin with 'íf'."
He also sought to avoid giving any value judgment on Samajwadi Party completing 100 days in office in Uttar Pradesh. Asked to rate the performance of Akhilesh Yadav government, he said "we are not in the business of marking numbers."