New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said that Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi is an ideal choice for the post of prime minister, adding that he will be happy to work under him.
"I have always maintained that Rahul Gandhi would be an ideal choice for the PM post after 2014 elections (Lok Sabha). I will be very happy to work in the Congress under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi," the prime minister told reporters accompanying him on board the special Air India aircraft on his way home after attending the G20 summit in the Russian city of St Petersburg.
Eighty-year-old Singh was replying to a question on whether it is possible for him to seek a third term even as there is a clamour in the Congress to nominate Rahul to lead the party.
Manmohan also cleared his views on the coal scam and said he is not guilty in the scam.
"I am an open book, not prevented anyone from looking at my conduct. I have no desire to hide from Parliament, whether on coal or otherwise," said the prime minister.
Singh also did not rule out any alliances with erstwhile partner Trinamool Congress in the future, saying in politics there are no permanent enemies and permanent friends. He was asked whether the Congress will seek an alliance with Trinamool for the upcoming Parliamentary elections. "In politics, there are no permanent enemies and permanent friends. And in many ways, a week in politics is sometimes an unusually long period of time," he said, adding, "So, I don't rule out, for example, alliances."
Noting that Mamata Banerjee was a very respectable member of the Congress party at one time, the prime minister said the Congress was also very happy to have her in the UPA government.
Singh said the Congress would very much like like-minded, secular minded persons to work again to give the country's polity a thrust in favour of secular elements.
The prime minister also hinted at the possibility of meeting his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif later this month. Singh said Islamabad has to create the right atmosphere for a meeting between the two prime ministers. "I have always maintained that we can choose our friends. But we have no choice with regard to our neighbours," the prime minister said.
"Under normal conditions, I will be happy to meet Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, whom I respect, who has said the right things about how relations between our two countries should evolve," he said.
"But, there are certain harsh realities on the ground," the prime minister added to the question over the possibility of his meeting with the new Pakistan prime minister when both converge at the UN later this month.
The outstanding issues like Pakistan's assurances on the MFN status to India and the release of Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails might also be taken up during the proposed meeting. It is likely that the revelations indicating the involvement of Pakistan in the terror activities during the interrogations of Indian Mujahideen operative Yasin Bhatkal and Lashkaer-e-Toiba bomb maker Abdul Karim Tunda may also be shared with the Pakistani Prime Minister.
(with additional inputs from PTI)