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Indian union home minister supports Congress head to be PM
Publication Date : 12-01-2014
Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde created a stir in political circles by purportedly saying that he would be “happy” to see the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief and Union agriculture minister, Sharad Pawar, becoming the Prime Minister.
Shinde is a veteran Congress leader from Maharashtra, its former chief minister, and is currently also the Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha. He is also a member of the all-powerful Congress Core Group, headed by party president Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Shinde was quoted as saying during an interaction with editors of a Marathi newspaper at Solapur in Maharashtra that “I would be happy if Pawar becomes the PM. He is my political guru. I entered politics because of him... Everone has ambition. He has been trying since 1992.”
Shinde also purportedly said: “There is no reason for (having) two views on this. I have said this many times, even on national platform.” He also said Pawar has been trying to become PM since 1992, but was a “victim of Delhi politics”.
Shinde's remarks came just ahead of several crucial Congress party events - an extended Congress Working Committee (CWC) meet on January 16 followed by a day-long All India Congress Committee meeting on 17 January - during which the party is expected to formally project its vice president Rahul Gandhi as its PM candidate for the April-May Lok Sabha polls.
Seizing on Shinde's comments, the opposition BJP said a top Congress leader was thus himself conceding that no one from his party would be able to become the PM in the upcoming general elections.
The AICC sought to downplay Shinde's remarks, with the AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra affairs, Mohan Prakash, refraining from making any comments other than maintaining that “Shinde is himself capable of commenting on his remarks”.
Congress circles declined to read much into Mr Shinde's remarks, claiming that “they were meant to be sarcastic and in a humorous way”.
Reacting to Shinde's statement, the NCP said Pawar was not in the race for the PM's post despite being the “most eligible” candidate for the post.
“Sharad Pawar is not in PM's race,” the NCP spokesman Nawab Malik reportedly said. “Pawar is the most eligible candidate around, but as far as NCP is concerned, we know it's a numbers game. We know our limitations. No one becomes the PM by contesting a few seats.”