Arjun Singh bats for Rahul as prime ministerial candidate


New Delhi : Senior Congress leader and Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister Arjun Singh Monday said there was nothing wrong in projecting Congress MP Rahul Gandhi as the party’s next prime ministerial candidate.

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“He (Rahul) has all the qualities of his father (former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi),” Singh told reporters.

“He is making sincere efforts to acquire all the information and knowledge that is required (for the top job),” Singh said.

Rahul’s father, late Rajiv Gandhi, was only 40 years old when he became prime minister after his mother Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984.

The HRD minister was responding to the question whether Rahul Gandhi should be projected as prime ministerial candidate of the Congress party and the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections due in May 2009.

Rahul Gandhi, 38, an MP from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, has lately reinforced his standing as a Congress leader through his countrywide campaigns.

He has shown concern for the rights of Dalits and has intervened in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), the UPA government’s flagship programme.

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Praful Patel in an interview to CNN-IBN TV channel Sunday backed both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi’s candidature.

Earlier, NCP leader and union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar had backed Manmohan Singh for a second-term as prime minister after the 2009 general elections.

Arjun Singh avoided a debate on Pawar’s views.

“These are individual views…. it is for the UPA to decide. I have no view. Whatever is the party view, is my view,” he said.

Some other UPA allies have expressed apprehensions that Rahul was too raw to become prime minister. They have however not put their views on record.

On the issue of UPA contesting the election collectively as suggested by Pawar, Singh said it was up to the coalition to decide whether this was feasible.