Senior BJP leader Yashwant Sinha told reporters that after the Congress performance in the recent Assembly polls, it will not be easy for the ruling party to choose its PM candidate, unlike the BJP which had a clear choice.
"If they make Rahul Gandhi their Prime Ministerial candidate then everybody knows what happened to the Congress in the Assembly elections. The whole country knows that Rahul Gandhi could not click anywhere," Sinha said.
Dismissing speculation that Gandhi's elevation could be a threat to the BJP, he said, "There is no possibility of Congress doing well under Rahul Gandhi. This has already been seen."
BJP Vice President Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi underlined that Congress should understand that it cannot wash away the taint of corruption with malgovernance. "If Congress tries to do so then this taint will spread further on the face and hands of that party," he said.
Asked about Gandhi being the PM candidate, he said, "Whether Congress declares its PM candidate, or whether it changes him or brings a new or old one. It can do whatever it wants to in the next two months but today Congress is engaged in washing away the taint."
The BJP's comments come a day after Finance Minister P. Chidambaram said that Congress should project its Prime Ministerial candidate for the forthcoming general elections next year.
Congress Spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said, "Chidambaram has said two-three times earlier also that we should project our leadership. He has perhaps joined the statement that Sonia Gandhi gave some time back that perhaps this time we will name our Prime ministerial candidate."
"...Chidambaram has earlier also made statements that we need to identify the leadership for the elections. I think he has reiterated his earlier positions," he said.
Sources in Congress also declined a possibility of the Prime Minister stepping down during or after his January 3 press conference and Rahul Gandhi taking over.
Dikshit said Chidambaram might have lent his voice to what the Congress President had said on December 8 that the party would declare its Prime Ministerial candidate at an appropriate time.
Congress sources said the January 3 press conference of the Prime Minister will be an occasion to highlight the UPA's achievements.
NCP Tariq Anwar said this is increasingly coming in the public domain but it is the Congress, which has to decide who will be their Prime Ministerial candidate in the coming polls.
"Since BJP has already announced its Prime Ministerial candidate, the sentiment is gaining ground in the Congress that their PM candidate should be declared so that there is no confusion. I think Chidambaram's remarks are also in that direction," Anwar said.