M A I N   N E W S

Post of CPP chief created for Sonia
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, May 19
After two days of high drama and dramatic developments, the nomination of Dr Manmohan Singh as the Congress party’s Prime Ministerial candidate today eventually turned out to be a smooth affair.

Given the mood at the meeting of the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) yesterday when Mrs, Gandhi announced her decision to decline the Prime Minister’s post, it had appeared that choosing a new candidate might prove to be a difficult task. In the end, however, the reluctant members reconciled to the fact that Mrs Gandhi was not going to reconsider her decision.

The new order was put in place at a specially-convened CPP meeting — the third this week — where the members first amended the party constitution to create a new post of CPP chairperson. Mrs Sonia Gandhi was subsequently elected unanimously to this post, which means she will head the parliamentary parties of both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. She was also authorised to name the leader of the CPP to head the government.

The meeting was called to put the formal seal on Dr Manmohan Singh’s candidature as the next Prime Minister. It followed day-long meetings with the Congress Party’s pre-poll allies and the Left Front leaders where Mrs Sonia Gandhi pleaded her inability to take on the Prime Minister’s job and urged the allies to support the new Congress candidate.

Realising that Mrs Gandhi was determined, they eventually gave their support. While Mrs Gandhi personally called on CPM leader Harkishan Singh Surjeet, DMK supremo M. Karunanidhi and RJD chief Laloo Prasad Yadav, she met the others, including Lok Janshakti leader Ram Vilas Paswan, at her residence.

Mrs Gandhi, it is learnt, was quite emotional when she urged the alliance partners not to insist on her taking on the PM’s post. An equally emotional Mr Paswan told her that “her status had further enhanced after her refusal to take the PM’s post” adding that this was a deserving “slap for the BJP and other communal forces.”

The subsequent formalities also included the passage of a unanimous resolution which stated that since Mrs Gandhi had expressed her inability to change her decision of relinquishing the post of CPP leader, it had become incumbent on the party to fill the vacancy.

Armed with the necessary constitutional authorisation, Mrs Gandhi then named Dr Manmohan Singh “to take on this great responsibility”, stating that she had “always admired his qualities of head and heart.” She also urged members to extend their unstinted support to him. At the same time, she also reassured the members that she was “not going away. I intend to discharge my responsibilities as a member of Parliament, as chairperson of the Congress Parliamentary Party and, above all, as Congress president for as long as you all want me to.”

Dr Singh, on his part, also had words of praise for Mrs Sonia Gandhi who, he said, is his leader. “I would hate to be a substitute for Mrs Gandhi...nobody can be a substitute for her.” He described this occasion as a great moment in history which had witnessed a rare example of sacrifice.

“If I say thank you, it will never be an adequate expression of my gratefulness, he said. Being the self-effacing person that he is, Dr Singh publicly acknowledged that he was aware of his limitations” but added that he wanted the Congress party to build itself up so as to make up for his limitations.

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