Arjun Singh bats for Rahul as PM, Vayalar Ravi seconds him

April 14th, 2008 - 8:56 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) Hours after Congress leader Arjun Singh Monday said there was nothing wrong in projecting Congress MP Rahul Gandhi as the party’s next prime ministerial candidate, another senior party leader Vayalar Ravi seconded the suggestion, saying it was a “good” idea. “He (Rahul) has all the qualities of his father (former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi),” Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Arjun Singh told reporters earlier in the day.

“He is making sincere efforts to acquire all the information and knowledge that is required (for the top job),” Singh said.

The HRD minister was responding to the question whether the 37-year-old Amethi MP should be projected as prime ministerial candidate of the Congress party and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections due in May 2009.

Reacting to Singh’s statement, Minister of Overseas Indian Affairs Ravi said it is a good idea to project Rahul Gandhi as prime minister.

“It is a good suggestion,” Ravi told reporters here.

Rahul’s father, late Rajiv Gandhi, was only 40 years old when he became the prime minister after his mother Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984.

Rahul Gandhi has lately reinforced his standing as a Congress leader through his countrywide campaigns. He has shown concern for the rights of Dalits and has intervened in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the UPA government’s flagship programme.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel in an interview to CNN-IBN TV channel Sunday backed both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi’s candidature.

Earlier, NCP leader and union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar had backed Manmohan Singh for a second-term as prime minister after the 2009 general elections.

Arjun Singh avoided to comment on Pawar’s views.

“These are individual views… It is for the UPA to decide. I have no view. Whatever is the party view, that is my view,” he said.

Some other UPA allies have expressed apprehensions that Rahul Gandhi was “too raw” to become prime minister. They have, however, not put their views on record.

On the issue of UPA contesting the election collectively as suggested by Pawar, Singh said it was up to the coalition to decide whether this was feasible.

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