M A I N   N E W S

Rahul for Top Job
Sycophancy, says Cong
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

Pranab MukherjeeNew Delhi, April 15
After the Congress formally ticked off its leaders for indulging in sycophancy for orchestrating the “Rahul for Prime Minister” campaign, party president Sonia Gandhi met HRD minister Arjun Singh this evening to seek a clarification on his statement in this regard.

Arjun Singh, who went armed with a tape recorder to explain what exactly he had said on the issue, was unfazed after this meeting, stating that he would not retract his statement.

“What’s the harm in what I have said,” he told mediapersons after his meeting, adding he had said nothing against the Prime Minister.

“I am a member of his Cabinet, I follow conventions and will continue to do so,” Arjun Singh maintained.

His proposal on Rahul Gandhi was earlier endorsed by external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee, stating that young people must get a chance at leadership.

Even as the HRD minister insisted “there was nothing wrong with his statement”, the Congress cleared the air on the leadership issue, stating there is no vacancy for the Prime Minister’s post.

"The Congress would like to put an end to all speculation, and states that it is not appropriate to spread such political speculation in this way. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi have always kept away from any environment of sychophancy,” Congress spokesperson Jayanti Natarajan clarified today.

Reading from a prepared statement, Natarajan then went on to heap praise on the UPA government and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to send out a message to both Congress members and its allies that there should be no effort to undermine the Prime Minister.

“The UPA government, which includes the Prime Minister and his team, have put in a magnificent record of performance-oriented achievements.The government has delivered significant welfare measures for the benefit of the most disadvantaged sections of society,” Natarajan added.

Congress sources said it became necessary to clarify matters as this snowballing campaign sends out a wrong message, undermines the PM’s authority and creates unnecessary uncertainty in the government.

“Not only will this weaken our plan of stability, but the UPA will also be looked upon as a lameduck government,” a senior Congress leader said.

The Congress party’s strong clarification comes after Arjun Singh and Pranab Mukherjee’s made a strong pitch for the projection of Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi as the next Prime Ministerial candidate.

A day after Arjun Singh made this suggestion, today it was Mukherjee’s turn to endorse it.

“Always leadership will go to young people. It is an universal truth," said Mukherjee, adding that "Everywhere new leadership is coming. If Arjun Singh has suggested there is nothing wrong in it.”

Not just Congress leaders, but its allies have also come out in support of the HRD minister’s statement. Tamil Nadu chief minister M.Karunanidhi had said in Chennai yesterday that he would be happy if Rahul Gandhi made PM.



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