Digvijaya cautions over naming of PM candidate
A week before the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session, where all eyes will be peeled for Rahul Gandhi possibly being named the party’s prime ministerial nominee, senior leader Digvijaya Singh has advocated caution on making the call.Updated: Jan 10, 2014 17:05 IST
A week before the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session, where all eyes will be peeled for Rahul Gandhi possibly being named the party’s prime ministerial nominee, senior leader Digvijaya Singh has advocated caution on making the call.
“I have been consistently saying that we are a parliamentary democracy and here it is not a contest between key personalities. It’s a contest between policies, ideologies and programmes of parties,” Singh said on Friday.
He said under the parliamentary system, whichever party achieved majority, the leader was chosen by newly elected members of Parliament and assemblies.
“And then he becomes Prime Minister or Chief Minister... That is the age-old practice... However, party president Sonia Gandhi has given an indication on December 8... If Congress party wants to declare (the PM candidate), it is okay.”
Singh’s stand differs from other senior leaders. On December 30, 2013, finance minister P Chidambaram had said the Congress should project its PM candidate for the 2014 general elections due by May.
Talk of Congress vice-president Rahul being made the PM candidate gained ground after Sonia’s statement on December 8, 2013, the day the party suffered losses in the Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Delhi assembly polls.
Accompanied by Rahul, she had told the media a decision on the Congress PM nominee would be taken at an “opportune moment”.
The party never declares its PM or CM candidates in advance, but Sonia’s statement has led to more and more voices pitching for Rahul being named the PM nominee.
Last month, a senior Congress leader had told HT the decision of naming Rahul the PM nominee would be taken on or before the January 17 session of the AICC.
“The issue is under active consideration, though it can go either way. But there will be clarity by or before the AICC session,” the leader, who did not want to be named, had added.
Declaring Gandhi the PM candidate will draw the battle lines for the 2014 general elections, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) having already named Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi its pick for the top post.
Amid the growing clamour over naming him the party’s PM candidate, Rahul on Friday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ahead of the Congress core group meeting.
The Amethi MP, who is keen on pushing through key anti-corruption bills, met the PM for about 30 minutes before the party group chaired by Sonia began deliberations.
Telecom minister Kapil Sibal and minister of state for personnel, public grievances and pensions V Narayanaswamy, who are not members of the core group, were also called for the morning meeting.
Defence minister AK Antony, Chidambaram, home minister Sushilkumar Shinde and Sonia’s political secretary Ahmed Patel are members of this top decision making body which is viewed as an interface between the party and the government.
The bills which create the framework to tackle corruption include the Whistleblowers’ Protection Bill, Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill, a bill on citizens’ charter, amendments to the Prevention of Corruption Act and the just-passed Lokpal Bill, which has received assent of the President.
Last week, the PM had said it would be the “sincere effort” of the government to pass these anti-corruption measures pending in Parliament ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections so that the fight against graft could move ahead.
The core group meet comes a day after a political controversy broke out over the coal block allocation issue.
The core group, which usually meets in the evening, met early at the PM’s residence because he had to leave for Mumbai to inaugurate a new international airport terminal.
With inputs from PTI