Breaking away from tradition, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday asserted that Singh is the party's prime ministerial candidate even as she sidestepped questions on doing business with the Third Front in a post-poll situation.
Congress partys candidate for prime ministership is Manmohan Singh....for full term....for five years. What more can I say, Gandhi said at a function held here to release the party's manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections. There may be several claimants for prime ministership, but no one can match Manmohan Singh, she added again later. Ruling out her own candidature, she made it clear that there was no change in her position of not accepting prime ministership. I had made my position very clear in 2004 and there is no change in that position even now. she said.
Singh, on his part, made a stinging attack on the BJPs prime ministerial candidate when asked to comment on the latters of repeated criticism that he was a weak Prime Minister. Whether I was weak or strong, the actions of our government will speak volumes.....but when I look at the record of Advani, all I can discover is his prominent role in destruction of Babri Masjid. What else he had done afterwards as a contribution to the national welfare, he said.
The PM also made it clear that he had no intention of contesting the Lok Sabha polls, pointing out that he was just out of a bypass surgery. I need time to recover. Therefore, I dont think I can right now jump into the election fray, he said, even as he saidin response to criticism that he was a Rajya Sabha member that there were several prime ministers in the past who were from the Upper House. Acknowledging Sonias role in making him Prime Minister, he hailed her as the guardian angel of UPA.
Both Gandhi and Singh used the stability card to the hilt to seek a renewed mandate with the manifesto dubbing the Third Front as a recipe for chaos and BJP as a party of narrow communalism. Dismissing suggestions that it was the end of the ruling alliance ahead of the polls, Gandhi pointed out that the Congress had already struck pre-poll tie-ups with parties like the NCP and the DMK. It is only with the RJD and the SP that we were unable to come to seat sharing arrangements. We will be fighting elections on our own in UP and Bihar she said.
The PM termed BJPs defence of Varun Gandhis comments with communal overtone as shameful. To another question about a BJP leader calling Varuns remarks as reflective of the Congress culture, Gandhi said that any sane person who knows history knows fully well what does Advani stand for.