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May 14, 2013 at 09:04am IST

Congress goes into damage control mode after reports of rift with PMO

New Delhi: There have been speculations of the growing rift between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. After CNN-IBN reported the inside story of how a section of the Congress wants the Prime Minister to make way for new leadership, the Congress clarified that Dr Manmohan Singh will be the Prime Minister till 2014.

"There is absolutely no rift between the party and the Prime Minister. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will be the Prime Minister till 2014," Congress leader Renuka Chowdhary said.

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Sources say an upset Prime Minister conveyed it to the party that he wasn't being defended by the Congress and that he was being made the scapegoat over coalgate. And there was immediate backing from the Congress.

"The relations between the Prime Minister and Sonia Gandhi are excellent. There is no rift," Congress leader Janardhan Dwivedi said.

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But there are worrying signs. Sources say that a section of the Congress say things could get too hot to handle in the future. If the Supreme Court in its July observation makes adverse comments against the Prime Minister, things could get worse. "The Prime Minister is directly responsible for the decisions taken for the ministries under his control," BJP leader Nirmala Seetharaman said.

What's worse is that if there are more revelations and increased demand that the Prime Minister should be interrogated as a former coal minister as others like Dasari Narayan Rao and Santosh Bagrodia have been, the Congress could be left red faced.

So there is a feeling that ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress should go in for a facelift in terms of its top leadership. But for now, the party is reluctant as there still remains no alternative. It is also felt that only Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi could keep the flock together, but he remains reluctant to do so.

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