Talk of Nandan Nilekani, not Rahul Gandhi being made Congress PM candidate 'hypothetical': Dikshit

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 12 2013, 02:10am hrs
Congress today dismissed as "hypothetical" talk of Nandan Nilekani being made the PM candidate, maintaining that it was for the high command to choose Rahul Gandhi or any other leader - with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) anointing Narendra Modi its PM candidate, pressure is mounting on Congress to do the same.

Party spokesman Sandeep Dikshit also said that "Rahul Gandhi has lot of support and lot many of us consider him our leader" but feigned ignorance about the possibility of his being made the PM candidate.

He also brushed aside suggestions that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could be replaced in wake of the poll drubbing, insisting that party has already made it clear that he will complete his term.

"I don't know from where this talk (about Nilekani) has come. That a newspaper has said this does not necessarily mean it is the information of Congress...The Congress President has said that the PM candidate will be announced at an appropriate time", Dikshit told reporters while replying to a volley of questions on the issue.

"I am not privy to the information whether Nandan Nilekani is being considered or not considered...I don't know the sources of the information and from where it has come. I do not believe in its substance. I have never heard of it before this article came...Right now it is hypothetical," the Congress spokesperson said.

He said he has absolutely no idea of the talk about Nilekani before this article appeared. A newspaper article spoke of the possibility of Nilekani as a wild card entry as Congress PM candidate for the next general elections given the background of his being a successful technocrat with clean image.

A number of party leaders, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said it is unlikely but Dikshit chose to play safe in the official briefing.

"...But I can say with confidence that whoever the high command decides would be among the best and one who is competent to lead", he said when asked whether the Congress President's statement meant that Rahul would not be the candidate.

"Mr Gandhi or someone (else) it is for the high command to decide...But I can say Mr Gandhi has lot of support and lot many of us consider him our leader," he said.

Dikshit, at the same time, said that he was "not suggesting anything".

Dikshit was also asked whether the talk about Nilekani meant that Congress could ignore senior leaders like P Chidambaram, A K Antony and Sushikumar Shinde for the top job.

Speculation has been gaining ground as Rahul Gandhi, who is seen by many in the party as a PM candidate, has so far not shown any keeness for it.

Gandhi has been undoubtedly number two in the party after Sonia Gandhi and his position got formalised when he took over as party Vice President at the Chintan Shivir of the party at Jaipur in January this year.

He has always been seen as the future leader and a potential Prime Minister and his responsibilities have increased after he was made the Vice President.