With the Congress party still undecided to project Rahul Gandhi as prime ministerial candidate ahead of 2014 general elections, party sources say, the mantle may again fall on 80-year old Manmohan Singh to head another government. But, they agree elections in eight states this year touted as mini general elections ahead of Lok Sabha polls shall decide the future of Gandhi as well as his prime ministerial ambitions.
The leaders believe the Congress president Sonia Gandhi was still appearing protective in letting her 42-year old son to be declared as the prime ministerial candidate. “She cuts short any debate, whenever, the issue of letting Rahul to be declared for top post is initiated,” said an insider.
At the party briefing on Wednesday, party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said the Congress had several leaders capable to become prime minister. He said the decision will be taken by the newly elected MPs after the elections and the Congress high command. He almost ruled out projection of anyone as the prime minister ahead of polls.
Asked whether Rahul Gandhi could be the PM candidate in 2014 elections, he said, “Rahul Gandhi is leader of Congress party, all of us and the nation. He is high command and we will contest the 2014 elections under Sonia Gandhi and Rahul’s leadership.”
The party has been parrying questions if it could project 67-year old finance minister Palaniappan Chidambaram as next prime minister. The DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi described him as a potential prime ministerial candidate at a function in Chennai on Saturday in which he was also present. Amid loud applauses and cheers, Karunanidhi had said many want a “dhoti-clad” Tamilian to be the prime minister, endorsing actor Kamal Hassan’s view that Chidambaram would become the prime minister.
But Chidambaram on Monday rubbished his projection, saying he knows his “limitations” and “not so foolish” to go beyond them. “I know my limitations and I stay within my limitations, conduct myself according to my limitations. That’s my serious answer. And on a lighter note, I know some of you think I am foolish but I am not so foolish as you think,” he said. A foreign publication The Economist also had said that Chidambaram could be the PM candidate, especially if it comes to a face off wth Narendra Modi.
The party leaders say, they will remain focused on eight states which are going to polls in 2013.They are Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Tripura. “We will join debate on prime ministerial candidate etc. These are just distractions engineered by our opponents,” they say. They, however, agree these elections will decide fortunes of Rahul Gandhi and whether he will be the prime ministerial candidate.