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Congress Wants Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister, But He is Open to Anyone Not Backed by RSS

Top sources told News18 that Gandhi’s own candidature for the PM post would depend on the numbers the Congress gets in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, a marked departure from the voices coming out of the Congress Working Committee.


Updated:July 25, 2018, 5:06 PM IST

New Delhi: The Congress would like Rahul Gandhi to be the next Prime Minister the after the 2019 Lok Sabha election, but the party’s chief himself would not mind backing a candidate from one of the allies. Sources in the party said that Gandhi has said that it should just not be someone backed by the RSS.

Top sources told News18 that Gandhi’s own candidature for the PM post would depend on the numbers the Congress gets in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, a marked departure from the voices coming out of the Congress Working Committee, which anointed him as the party’s face and backed him to lead the Grand Alliance of opposition parties.

Party leaders said that they are open to stitching alliances to keep the BJP away from power, especially in electorally important states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, where forming a coalition will prove to be tough and it may have to accept the role of a junior partner to the likes of BSP, SP and RJD.

While UP has 80 Lok Sabha seats, Bihar has 40 and the two together comprise over 22 per cent of the total strength of Lok Sabha members.

The change in tone shows that the Congress is ready to swallow its ego as the task of stitching and maintaining alliances will involve more give than take and would preclude the party accepting that its days of dominance are over.

This was clear by the reaction to the Rahul for PM stance got from allies, with no one but the JDS backing the move. While Mamata Banerjee refused to speak on it, Tejaswhi said that there are other contenders too. Mamata as well as Mayawati have already staked claim to the face of the opposition in the past.

At the meeting of CWC, the party’s highest decision making body, the consensus had emerged that it they should remain open to ‘state-specific’ alliances, but only in those states where the Congress is weak. P Chidambaram had said that Congress should go it alone in 12 states where it is well placed.

The mandate to stitch alliances, both pre-poll and post-poll, has been given to Rahul Gandhi. But the unambiguous message to its current allies and also to others who may join the ranks in the coming months was that they would fight this election under the stewardship of Rahul as it is the only outfit to have a footprint all over the country. It had also set itself the ambitious target of winning 200 seats, up from the 44 it won in 2014.

Rahul, himself, sources said is more flexible and would be willing to step aside for a woman candidate from a possible opposition alliance.

The sources said he "is comfortable seeing any prime minister other than an RSS-backed one". Let's see how the dice rolls, they said.

There is speculation in the Opposition camp that a woman prime ministerial candidate may be projected in the next elections and names of BSP leader Mayawati and TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee are doing the rounds.

According to the sources, the Congress leadership is of the view that the BJP will be decimated without any "anger and disrespect".

The BJP will not get enough seats to win the next general polls as parties like the TDP, the Shiv Sena are not happy with the saffron party, the sources added.

For Narendra Modi to be the prime minister again, he has to get seats in the range of 280 and that is not going to happen, they said. The source, however, maintained that if numbers permit, Congress chief’s would be made the PM face.

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