No other options to Manmohan Singh, Pratibha Patil: Sonia

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New Delhi, Oct 12 (UNI) Congress President Sonia Gandhi today said she never had a second thought over the choice of Ms Pratibha Patil as the Presidential candidate despite the serious charges levelled by the BJP.

She also rejected a suggestion that the Congress had considered options other than fielding Dr Manmohan Singh for the post of the Prime Minister.

''There was no doubt. There was no other candidate,'' Ms Gandhi said while interacting with senior journalists at the Hindustan Times Leadership summit.

Replying to a question, she also made it clear that she had never thought of having a Deputy Prime Minister.

''That was never an issue. That was never considered by me,'' she said.

She was asked about the secret behind her successfully negating the perception of having two power centres, involving her as the Congress President and UPA Chairperson and Dr Manmohan Singh as the Prime Minister.

Ms Gandhi said she had had a long association with Dr Singh before he became Prime Minister and they always had an ''excellent working rapport. We are not competitors. Therefore, we work very closely in an atmosphere of frankness.'' Dr Singh brought to her notice the issues he felt had to be reported to her and the same way she consulted the Prime Minister on matters she deemed necessary, the UPA Chairperson said.

Asked about the performance of the Manmohan Singh government, she said she was ''absolutely satisfied with the work which has been done...I applaud the Prime Minister for the manner in which he has run the government and the coalition.'' A great deal of work had been done. But one was never satisfied and always felt more could be done. In this case, the government was working in a coalition and ''I am more than satisfied.'' The government had focused on poverty alleviation and had successfully enacted legislation for rural employment guarantee and right to information.

Ms Gandhi rejected an observation that she was embarrassed by the economic success. ''I would not say we are embarrassed by the economic success of the country. In fact, we are proud of it. As long as we have huge poverty, we cannot go about bragging about our growth. Yes, we talk about, but we cannot forget that there are still areas where people live in extremely poor conditions.'' She described as ''surreal'' the India shining campign of the NDA which turned about to its nemesis in the 2004 Lok Sabha elections.

India was shining only for a small group of people which did not make much of a difference to the rest of the country.


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