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Now Congress changes tone, says ready to lead coalition

By Anuj Cariappa
|

New Delhi, May 18: The Congress Friday said it is committed to constituting a progressive and secular government and ready to lead a coalition, a day after its senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad said the party is not averse to supporting a regional leader for the Prime Minister's post even if it emerges as the single largest party.

As part of its efforts to bring together opposition parties, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi has asked her trusted leaders to convene a meeting soon after the Lok Sabha election results are announced on May 23, sources said.

Now Congress changes tone, says ready to lead coalition

"My party high command has already made it clear that the Congress is not averse to making a prime minister from any regional party," Azad had told reporters in Shimla on Thursday.

However, in a change of tone on Friday, he said, "It is not true that the Congress will not claim the Prime Minister's post. The Congress is the biggest and oldest party and it should be given a chance if a government has to run for five years."

Asked about Azad's comments, Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Rahul Gandhi and Congress leadership believe that we will like to take people and political parties with different shades of opinion along with us. We will, if necessary, walk the extra mile to take them with us and what I think Ghulam Nabi ji was espousing is not different," he said.

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"I assure you that the Indian National Congress is committed to constitute a progressive, a liberal, a democratic and a secular government in the country," he said.

Surjewala said the Congress believes that it will emerge as the single largest party.

"Naturally, if we have the numbers and emerge as the single largest party, we must lead the next government. However, we believe, let's wait for the results to come out, the results will be surprising," he said.

He asserted that the Congress and other political parties will no longer be in the opposition and Narendra Modi will be shown the door after the Lok Sabha elections.

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