Pitch for Rahul Gandhi as PM candidate becomes louder

April 14th, 2008 - 11:57 pm ICT by admin  

A file-photo of Sonia Gandhi
(Second Lead)

New Delhi, April 14 (IANS) The pitch for Congress MP Rahul Gandhi as the party’s next prime ministerial candidate seemed to be rising Monday with two senior party leaders and an ally saying he could be considered for the top job. Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Arjun Singh set the ball rolling Monday morning when he said the 37-year-old Amethi MP was eligible for the hot seat because he had the qualities of his father, former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

Within hours of Singh’s comment, Vayalar Ravi, senior Congress leader and Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs, backed the idea. “It is a good suggestion,” he said, when reporters asked for his comments on Arjun Singh’s view.

By the evening the DMK, a partner of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), had lent its support to the idea. DMK patriarch and Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi welcomed the suggestion of the Gandhi scion emerging as the UPA’s eventual prime ministerial candidate.

“Rahul has the necessary family background and can learn while on the job,” Karunanidhi told a private television channel in Chennai.

The Congress party however, has officially not made any comment on the leadership issue.

On Sunday, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel, in an interview to CNN-IBN, said his party would have no objection to Congress president Sonia Gandhi or her son Rahul Gandhi becoming prime minister. “It is for the Congress to decide the leadership issue,” he had said.

At the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters, senior party leaders preferred to play it safe. All they said was that the matter was not likely to figure on the agenda of the AICC meetings in the near future.

Responding to statements made by Arjun Singh and Vayalar Ravi, they said it was their “personal” opinion.

Senior Congress leader and party spokesperson Veerappa Moily believed that the leadership issue did not arise at this juncture because Manmohan Singh was doing a “good job” as prime minister.

“It is a beautiful co-ordination that we have between a strong prime minister and a strong UPA chairperson (Sonia Gandhi),” Moily said.

Rajiv Gandhi became prime minister when he was 40 years old, following the assassination of his mother Indira Gandhi.

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