Manmohan Singh ready to make way for Rahul

Hopes party vice-president will lead the UPA in future

Manmohan Singh ready to make way for Rahul

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said here on Monday that he was ready to make way for Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to lead the United Progressive Alliance (UPA).

“I have always said, as far as I am concerned, that I would be very happy to see Rahul step into my shoes,” he said. “Rahul Gandhi is a natural leader of the Congress. I hope he will lead the UPA. I always believe Rahul is fit enough and has the right qualities of a leader.”

Singh’s comment assumes significance as he himself had on two occasions earlier not ruled himself out from the race for the top post again if the UPA manages to win a third term.

Singh said Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, now emerging as a “poster boy” of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s campaign for the 2014 elections,  would not pose any threat to the Congress-led UPA’s prospects of winning a third term in power.
Singh also described Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, who recently led his Janata Dal-United (JD-U) to sever its ties with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), as a secular leader, indicating that the Congress was not averse to entering into an alliance with the regional party in future.

He also appeared to be warming up to the JD-U to seek its support in Parliament to get the Food Security Bill passed.

“Modi is no threat. The people of India know what he stands for. The people of India have to draw their own conclusion what they stand for,” Singh told journalists at Rashtrapati Bhavan after President Pranab Mukherjee administered the oath of office and secrecy to eight new ministers.

“In politics, there are no permanent enemies or permanent friends. We will decide as the situation evolves,” he said replying to a query if the Congress could tie up with the JD-U in future.

“I cannot speculate on that or what happens in the future. We need the support of all right-minded parties. In Parliament, we look for their support,” he added.
The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) suffered a jolt as the JD-U on Sunday formally announced its exit from the coalition.

The regional party was miffed over the BJP’s decision to appoint Modi chief of the party’s campaign committee for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Kumar had made it clear to the BJP that the JD-U would not accept Modi, who had a controversial role during the 2002 riots in Gujarat, as the prime ministerial candidate of the NDA.

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