Free Press Journal

Motor-mouth Shinde at it again


New Delhi :  Ahead of the all-important one-day session of the All India Congress Committee, another senior Congress leader has spoken about yet another prime ministerial candidate after the Lok Sabha elections this year.

“I would be happy if Pawar becomes the PM. He is my political guru. I entered politics because of him,” said Sushilkumar Shinde, Union home minister and leader of the Congress parliamentary party in the Lok Sabha.

On January 17, the All India Congress Committee is scheduled to meet for a day, and there has been a build-up that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi would be named the prime ministerial candidate. But Shinde’s comments have introduced a jarring note even though he backtracked on them.

However, Shinde later clarified that the Congress’ main aim is to make the party vice-president Rahul Gandhi as the next prime minister.

Shinde’s reference to the Nationalist Congress president Sharad Pawar’s prime ministerial ambitions since 1992 in an interaction with the media at his home town Solapur sent echoes all through the national capital as well.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar welcomed it as an acceptance by the Congress party that its nominee would not be the prime minister after the elections. “This is a good sign. The Congress knows that its candidate would not become the prime minister after the elections. We know that the people have made up their mind and our candidate Narendra Modi would be the prime minister,” he told the media.

Within the Congress, there was an effort to play down Shinde’s comments.” He is capable of answering all the questions on this issue,” said party general secretary Mohan Prakash who looks after the organisational affairs of Maharashtra.

Shinde’s comments came on a day when Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi spent his time with the youth in Bangalore to get inputs for the party’s election manifesto. The exercise was described as part of the party’s outreach effort, and to shed a Delhi-centric approach in the matter of policy consultations.

However, the NCP has observed that Pawar is not in the race to become the prime minister. Its spokesperson Nawab Malik clarified that Pawar would not contest the Lok Sabha elections this time, although his party would be happy to see him as the prime minister.

Recently Pawar had announced his plans to enter the Rajya Sabha, and opt out of Lok Sabha elections. “I have decided to stop. This will enable me to devote maximum time to party work. I am not averse to be in Rajya Sabha. Biennial elections to the upper house of Parliament will be held in March,” he had said while addressing party workers in Mumbai.