Cong will lead govt: PM

Cong will lead govt: PM

Manmohan Singh makes overtures to Left front, secular parties

Cong will lead govt: PM

Singh was pitching for a Congress-led coalition under him as he addressed a press conference here on Monday afternoon after winding up the campaigning for Congress candidates in Punjab. In the process, he also sent out a conciliatory message to the estranged Left partners and, possibly, also sounding out potential new partners. 

“Politics is the art of the possible. All options are open,” the prime minister said about the approach of his party in the post-poll phase which is also the crucial phase of the process of forming the next government.

Asserting that the Congress would emerge as the single largest party after the election results on May 16, Singh said it was now time for secular forces, including the Left, to work towards a “purposeful and secular government” at the Centre.

No compromise

He asserted that there was no question of the Congress “compromising” on the post of prime minister. “The Congress party has declared who its prime ministerial candidate is going to be. There is no wavering on that commitment,” Singh, whom party chief Sonia Gandhi has declared the candidate for the top job, told mediapersons.

Singh was replying to a question whether the Congress would sacrifice his candidature for the top post if the Left parties were to place such a condition for supporting another Congress-led coalition government. He ruled out the Congress supporting a Third Front government, including the one that could be led by the Left.

“The question of giving support to the Left will not arise because I don’t think the Left will get more seats than the Congress. The Congress will emerge as the single largest party,” he maintained. The Congress leader made it clear that his party was not averse to dumping Lalu Prasad in favour of Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar if the latter’s JD(U) were to win most of the 40 seats at stake in Bihar.

Numbers game

When asked whom the Congress considered a better ally between Lalu Prasad and Nitish, Singh paused for a while and said: “Everything depends on numbers. All possibilities and impossibilities would be decided after May 16 once the votes are counted.”

However, when queried if he considered Nitish to be “secular”, the prime minister said he had doubts about his secular credentials after Nitish shook hands with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi at NDA’s rally.

He also sought to brush aside Nitish’s allegation that  the Centre had sought back flood relief funds from the state, saying the Bihar government was to blame for not utilising Central funds.

When asked to comment on the show of unity put up by NDA allies at Ludhiana on Sunday, Singh said: “The fact that allies like the BJD and the TDP went away from the NDA fold reflects disunity in the NDA camp which will accentuate after the elections.”
Singh, who has been projected as a Sikh and Punjabi mascot by the Punjab Congress, addressed rallies at his home town Amritsar and Khadoor Sahib on the last day of campaigning for the last phase of elections.

He asked the electorate to vote for the Congress for the sake of stability and reject the “negative and divisive” politics of the BJP-led NDA. He also took potshots at the Third Front saying it had “stuttered and slipped even before it could walk.”

EC allows exit polls on May 13

The Election Commission on Monday said that opinion and exit polls could be telecast on May 13 after the close of voting in the fifth and final round of Lok Sabha elections at 5 pm, agencies report from New Delhi. 

“Channels are free to air exit polls after the elections are over,” Deputy Election Commissioner R Balakrishnan told reporters here. The Election Commission had banned exit polls in between the various phases of staggered elections that began on April 16.

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