External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday said Manmohan Singh, "quite justifiably", is the Congress prime ministerial candidate and there can be no other claimant to the post.
"As already announced, quite justifiably, Mr Singh is the party's prime ministerial candidate and our party's decision is that at this time there can be no other claimant to the post of Prime Minister," Mukherjee told a Bengali TVs phone-in programme on Monday night where his party's new ally Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee was also present.
"This is so because he(Manmohan) has run the country efficiently for the past five years and enhanced the country's prestige in the comity of nations," he added.
"And, with due respect and humility to Opposition parties, I want to state here, that there is no leader who can match him and stake claim for the post of the Prime Minister," he said in an obvious reference to BJP leader L K Advani's barbs about Singh being a weak PM.
"More so, in the present global economic meltdown, only an economist of Manmohan Singh's stature is fit to be the Prime Minister and lead the nation of 112 crore people," he said when a questioner said that the people of Bengal would like to see him as prime minister and Banerjee as chief minister of the state.