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Cong evades queries on PM contesting LS polls

February 15, 2009 15:50 IST

The Congress on Sunday evaded a direct reply when queried on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would contest the Lok Sabha elections, noting that several premiers have been the members of Rajya Sabha.

"This is a futile debate. Several prime ministers have been members of Rajya Sabha. The Constitution permits it. The Supreme Court has affirmed it in a detailed judgement," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.

"The Congress president has clearly said that there is no vacancy for the top job. So where is the debate," he added.

He was asked whether Singh would contest the polls after a formal announcement by Congress president Sonia Gandhi that he would continue to be the party's and United Progressive Alliance's prime ministerial candidate after the Lok Sabha elections.

Singhvi's remarks gain significance as they come a day after the first meeting of the Congress Central Election Committee, which has initiated the exercise of finalising the party tickets.

All India Congress Commitee General Secretary Rahul Gandhi, whom the party projects as the future leader and potential Prime Minister, had on Saturday said that Singh was 'my Prime Minister'.

"It is a deliberate issue created by the Bharatiya Janata Party," Singhvi said, suggesting that the stature of Manmohan Singh was 'head and shoulders above that of L K Advani's, the BJPs prime ministerial candidate.

When asked whether the Lok Sabha election was a tussle between Singh and Advani, he said he saw it as 'no contest'.

"Advani will have to cross many mountains before he achieves the sobriety, balance, the integrity, the stature and the respect which Manmohan Singh has enjoyed for several years. You cannot hope to achieve that slot through divisive tactics like Rath Yatra and Jinnah remarks," he said.

Singh, who has undergone a second cardiac surgery in January, is a member of the Rajya Sabha from Assam and is a member of the AICC from both Assam and Punjab.

H D Deve Gowda and I K Gujral have been the other prime ministers who have been members of the Upper House. BJP has been projecting Singh as the weakest prime minister of the country.

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