While Manmohan Singh was asked whether he would accept another term in office if Congress President Sonia Gandhi offers him prime ministership again after 2014, Singh replied, "these are all hypothetical questions. We will cross that bridge when we reach there".
The prime minister's remark shows that he is not ruling himself out of the race for Prime Ministership after the next Lok Sabha elections which is expected to be held in 2014.
Days after Manmohan Singh's statement, Congress senior leaders and ministers downplayed his desire. Snubbing the PM, Union minister and Congress leader Rajiv Shukla said, "In my view he was responding to a pointed question. And what he said? He only said that when bridge will come we will decide how to cross it."
Manish Tewari, the Information and broadcasting minister, was quoted as saying, "There is nothing to add or susbtract to what the Prime Minister has said. He was responding to a hypothetical question and it not essential to unnecessarily interpret the PM's statement."
Rashid Alvi, the Congress spokesperson, said," the Prime Minister's statement is very clear. No clarification is needed on it and till 2014, Manmohan Singhji is the Prime Minister of the country."
Clarifying the party's stand on prime ministerialship and its preference for Rahul Gandhi, Alvi added, "Workers of the Congress party have the desire from their heart that Rahulji should be the Prime Minister."
Meanwhile, BJP chief spookesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Dr Manmohan Singh is a very reluctant politician. But what is surprising is that few days after Holi, the reluctant politician has shown his true political colours. And that too being audaciously ambitious."
"Whether the comment of Manmohan Singh is more aimed at his foes in Congress or to put a question mark on Rahul Gandhi's claim for the post of Prime Minister, for which a consistent chorus is going on within the Congress, is entirely the internal matter of Congress," added the BJP leader.
Here it can be recalled that recently senior Congress leader and former Madhya Pradesg CM Digvijay Singh had slammed Sonia Gandhi's decision of nominating Manmohan Singh for the PM post Lok Sabha elections in 2004.
Criticising the "two power centres" model, Digvijay Singh had said, "...I strongly feel that ...when time comes and if the Congress gets majority or it is in a position to form the government, I think Rahul Gandhi should take the call."
"Even if a Congress-led coalition emerges, he (Rahul) is mature enough to handle the intricacies of coalition politics. Then ofcourse, we have senior leaders who have very successfully helped the UPA to complete two terms," added Digvijay Singh.