New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday did not rule out the possibility of a third term while saying that he will welcome Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi as the prime minister of the country any day. When asked on the sidelines of the Padma Awards ceremony in New Delhi on Friday if he welcomed Rahul Gandhi as prime minister, Manmohan said, "oh yes, any day."
Manmohan did not clear the air on Congress's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and continued to stay tight-lipped about the party's decision. Keeping in line with the party mandate, however, he welcomed Rahul as a popular choice to replace him for the top post. The clamour for Rahul as Congress's PM candidate has been growing following Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's rising popularity within the BJP.
The Prime Minister also stated that there aren't two power centres in the UPA and rubbished questions of his becoming the prime minister for third term as hypothetical as his government is yet to complete its term which comes to an end in May 2014.
"Dual power centre theory in UPA is a figment of imagination. This is the creation of the media. It is a useless debate," said Manmohan when asked about the issue of two power centres coming into focus after senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh raked it up recently. Asked whether he was ruling himself out, he said, "I am not ruling it in, I am not ruling it out."
Manmohan also lauded Rahul Gandhi's speech at the Confederation of Indian Industries annual general meeting. "Rahul's speech at the CII was excellent," said the Prime Minister.
Rahul Gandhi, who was appointed as Vice President of Congress in January, has been reluctant to join the government. While addressing the CII on Thursday he dubbed as "irrelevant" the questions over whether he would become the prime minister.
Two days ago, Manmohan had made a poll pitch to the industry and said that all regulatory hurdles will be removed. While inaugurating the two-day annual general meeting of the CII on Wednesday, he had also admitted that corruption and bureaucratic inertia are plaguing the UPA. The Prime Minister also said that running a coalition government is not easy. But he also said these problems existed even when the economy was growing at eight per cent. "Corruption is a problem. Managing a coalition government is not easy," said Manmohan.
Digvijaya Singh had said the two power centres - one the Congress President Sonia Gandhi and another the Prime Minister - had not worked well and should not be repeated.
With Additional Inputs from PTI