Not averse to being PM: Lalu Prasad

November 21st, 2008 - 6:22 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 21 (IANS) Tongue firmly in cheek, Railways Minister Lalu Prasad declared amidst much mirth Friday that he nurtured prime ministerial ambitions - but quickly added that the “people” would decide the issue.”The desire is there in everyone (to become prime minister). The desire is there in me also. But who will become the prime minister will be decided by the people,” Lalu Prasad said while answering a question at the HT Leadership Summit here.

The comment came during the session on “Power Shift: Will the States Lead the Centre?” The remark was also in response to moderator Rajdeep Sardesai’s introductory remarks in which he spoke of possible power sharing after the general elections due next year.

“People are speaking about two-and-a-half years for (Samajwadi Party leader) Mulayam Singh Yadav and two-and-a-half years for Lalu Prasad. Will it happen?” Sardesai wondered.

Lalu Prasad returned to the topic at the fag end of the session when the moderator asked: “So, who will be the next prime minister?”

“Minus the BJP, anyone can be the prime minister,” the railways minister retorted.

Former Andhra Pradesh chief minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N. Chandrababu Naidu, who also participated in the session, was more circumspect.

“The people will decide,” he said initially but then added that the compulsions of coalition politics would play a major role in this.

“So, what you are saying is that the real election will be after the election?” Sardesai asked, as Naidu smiled broadly and nodded.

Both politicians agreed that the regional parties, on whom the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) as also the previous National Democratic Alliance (NDA) were dependant, would very soon come together, even as the fortunes of the Congress and the BJP declined.

“The day will come and that day is not far away (when the regional parties come together),” Naidu maintained.

Lalu Prasad, as is his wont, was blunt in his response.

“I’m agreeing with you. Babu, I’m in touch with you but I am not saying anything,” he said, looking directly at Naidu, who merely smiled.

Responding to a question on whether India’s political parties were underestimating the efforts being made by Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi to revive the party’s fortunes, Lalu Prasad termed him an “innocent young man” who could well achieve what he has set out to do.

“Rahul Gandhi is doing what (Mahatma) Gandhiji did on his return to India (from South Africa). He is going to the rural areas to gauge the pulse of the people. His family has sacrificed a lot for the country. He has my best wishes. If the party reaps the benefits of his effort, that will be good,” the railways minister maintained.

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