Perhaps, for the first time, the Congress has said that the two power centres did not work well.
The grand old party keeps on tom-toming that Sonia Gandhi made an ultimate sacrifice in 2004 by refusing to become the prime minister and instead handing over the baton to Manmohan Singh. This resulted in two power centres, one at 10 Janpath and other at 7 Race Course Road.
“I feel that this model hasn’t worked very well. I personally feel that there should not be two power centres and I think whoever is the prime minister must have the authority to function,” senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh told a news channel.
He, however, immediately clarified that this did not mean there was any discord between Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
“Sonia Gandhi, though, has really never interfered in the functioning of the government,” Singh maintained. He was replying to a question whether Rahul Gandhi would follow his mother and appoint someone else to the post of prime minister if the Congress “gets another chance to form its government at the Centre after 2014 Lok Sabha elections.”
The Congress has had two power centres in the government after Sonia Gandhi “renounced” the post of the prime minister and appointed Singh to take up the top job in 2004. Before this, the Congress was led by P V Narshimha Rao, who held the posts of prime minister and party president.
Till now, the Congress has been comfortable with two power centres in its coalition government.
It is now seeking to break away from the current system in the run-up to the 2014 general election with the Nehru-Gandhi family scion recently expressing his reluctance to accept the post of the PM.
Citing Rahul’s lack of interest in becoming the prime minister, the “Time” and “The Economist” magazines, too, recently made a case for P Chidambaram to be considered for the top job.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has to name another “manager of the economy” as the successor of Singh if inexperience comes in the way of Rahul, a recent article in “Time” suggested.
The party, which has been projecting the Nehru-Gandhi family scion for the prime minister’s post despite his reservations to it, asserts that Rahul has potential and enough “maturity” to take up the top job and also handle the “intricacies” of coalition politics.
“Even if a Congress-led coalition emerges, he (Rahul) is mature enough to handle the intricacies of coalition politics,” Singh said.
He suggested that Rahul would be backed by senior party leaders, including Congress president, who “have very successfully helped” the UPA to complete two terms.