Congress still not forthright on its PM candidate

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New Delhi, Aug 18 (UNI) Despite indication by its President Sonia Gandhi that Dr Manmohan Singh will be the UPA Prime Ministerial candidate in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress today said 'the issue is not on the table." ''The term of the Parliament is not over. We have another seven to eight months,'' AICC Spokesman Manish Tewari told mediapersons in reply to a question if Dr Singh would be the UPA Prime Ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections.

He said Dr Singh has performed well on all fronts during the past 51 months while heading the UPA government.

''It is not for me to interpret the statement of the Congress President,'' he said when a scribe pointed out that Ms Gandhi had remarked ''Why not? Certainly'' when she was asked on August 15 last whether Dr Singh would unfurl the national flag at the Red Fort on August 15 next year.

Congress has been dodging the question of who will be its next Prime Ministerial candidate.

Any hint as to who would be the next Prime Minister, if the Congress returns to power, was not available even after the Opposition BJP publicly announced Mr L K Advani as its Prime Ministerial candidate.

It has been repeatedly said by the party spokespersons that there was no convention in the party of projecting any individual as the future Prime Minister or Chief Minister before the elections.

It was also explained that the elected members of the Lok Sabha would choose a leader in the event of the party getting a majority in the elections.

Political observers had taken the three words (Why not, certainly) uttered by Ms Gandhi as a clear indication that AICC General Secretary Rahul Gandhi would not immediately replace Dr Singh in case the Congress-led UPA comes to power after the next general elections.


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