I offered Rahul minister’s job, but he refused: Prime Minister (Lead)

March 26th, 2009 - 9:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi, March 26 (IANS) Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Thursday disclosed that he wanted Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, to be a minister in the cabinet, but Rahul refused.
“I always wanted Rahul Gandhi to be a minister, but he refused,” Manmohan Singh told reporters on the sidelines of a defence investiture function at Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“Power must be handed to the youth,” the prime minister underlined.

Manmohan Singh’s remarks come amid speculation about a role for Rahul Gandhi in the next government if the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) led by the Congress returns to power after the elections this April-May.

Repudiating the opposition’s charge about the Congress’ inability to handle coalitions, Manmohan Singh said the party had run the UPA coalition successfully for the last five years and had proved its ability to change with the times.

In a candid appraisal of his government’s performance, the prime minister said he will give the UPA “seven out of 10″.

Asked about allies like PMK leaving the UPA and other parties like Samajawadi Party, Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) and Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) forging an alliance in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, the prime minister said this was a result of local politics and not a reflection on the Congress’ skills at managing coalitions.

Alluding to a slew of flagship development programmes of the UPA like National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) and Bharat Nirman, the prime minister said that his government had achieved 80-85 percent of what it had set out to do and that these programmes were changing the face of India.

The prime minister’s comments on Rahul Gandhi come three days after Congress president Sonia Gandhi endorsed Manmohan Singh’s name as the prime ministerial candidate of the Congress and a day after Rahul Gandhi enthusiastically supported him, saying he had achieved a “hell of a lot” and had both toughness and grit.

Lauding Manmohan Singh as a “first class gentleman”, Rahul Gandhi had said he considered the prime minister to be “one of the top leaders” of the country.

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