By Kajol Singh | INN Live
Those in the Congress who were quietly trying to nudge Manmohan Singh out of his prime ministerial perch at the fag-end of his tenure got an answer on Tuesday: he will not oblige and announce his resignation at the press conference he’s scheduled to address on Friday morning.
Instead, the Prime Minister will be seeking to put behind the trying time faced by his UPA-II government and the party and use the New Year to reflect on the “shortcomings and lapses” and take “corrective action” for a “new beginning”. This is Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, by his own words.
Since in the two functional months that is left of UPA-II before the Election Commission announces its schedule for the parliamentary polls, there’s not much scope for a New Year pledge by an outgoing Prime Minister, a ‘new beginning’ can only be in the form of a new leader.
Many, therefore, believe that an announcement to that effect may come from the Prime Minister Singh on Friday. He may formally endorse Rahul Gandhi as the party’s prime ministerial candidate for 2014.
It could be a public acknowledgment of sort that he’s ready to bow out of active politics in favour of a younger leadership as in Rahul. “A retirement plan, not a resignation offer,” as a senior minister put it.
An announcement from the PM, sources said, will clear the way for Rahul as the PM candidate before the AICC session on January 17. “Without the PM... graciously making way for Rahulji (projection as his successor), it may look like the party is dumping him”.
As the new year starts, the speculation was rife about Rahul Gandhi not just exercising greater influence in the government, but even being appointed as the Congress’ prime ministerial candidate.
Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said: “Rahul Gandhi is the natural leader of the Congress.”
Tewari added that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had already said that if there was a need to declare the candidate, it would be done at a proper time and there was no need for any hurry.
The Minister’s views came after speculation became rife that Rahul may replace Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister, or even declared as prime ministerial candidate later this week.
Finance Minister P Chidambaram had earlier demanded that the Congress should declare its prime ministerial candidate soon.
Meanwhile, Manish Tewari denied that Manmohan Singh was stepping down from his post.
The Information and Broadcasting Minister refused to comment on BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s remark on Rahul Gandhi to ‘Akashavani’. However, the BJP was quick to take jibes at the Congress over the current speculation about the announcement of Rahul as PM candidate.Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha said: “If they make Rahul Gandhi their prime ministerial candidate, then everybody knows what happened to the Congress in the Assembly elections.
“The whole country knows that Rahul could not click anywhere.” Senior BJP leader Muktar Abbas naqvi added that the Congress would not be able to wash away the taint of corruption with malgovernance.