Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Republican Party of India president Ramdas Athawale, known for his humorous speeches and impromptu ditties, said on Sunday that if Kamala Harris could become the US vice president, why couldn’t Sonia Gandhi have become the PM. Athawale, who has been repeatedly pitching for a reunion between estranged allies Shiv Sena and the BJP and also urging NCP chief Sharad Pawar to join NDA, declared, “Sonia Gandhi should have been the PM when UPA came to power. If Kamala Harris can become US Vice President, why can’t Sonia Gandhi, who is an Indian citizen, wife of former PM Rajiv Gandhi and member of Lok Sabha, become PM?”
His statement follows Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s three-day US visit, which included a meeting with Harris.
“When the UPA got a majority in the 2004 general elections, I had proposed Sonia Gandhi’s name for Prime Minister. I was of the opinion that her foreign origin issue had no meaning,” he said. “Sonia Gandhi should have been the PM when UPA came to power. If Kamala Harris can become US vice president why can’t Sonia Gandhi, who is an Indian citizen, wife of former PM Rajiv Gandhi and member of Lok Sabha, become PM?” he reiterated.
Athawale, who was a cabinet minister in Sharad Pawar-led ministry in the 1990s in Maharashtra, described Pawar as a public leader and a deserving candidate for the PM’s post. “Pawar should have been made PM in place of Manmohan Singh but Sonia Gandhi did not do so,” he noted.
He further said, had Pawar become the country’s PM in 2004, the Congress’s position would have been strengthened and the party could have been spared its present precarious state. Pawar was expelled from Congress for raising the issue of Sonia Gandhi's foreign origin in 1999 and later, formed the Nationalist Congress Party.
On the subject of the caste-based census, Athawale said his party (RPI) was in favour of it. “Our party is of the view that the government should consider conducting a census on the basis of caste,” he added.
Athawale’s statement comes after the Centre told the Supreme Court that the caste-based census of the backward classes was “administratively difficult and it is a strategic decision to exclude such information from the scope of the census”.