New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday gave clear signals of working with the Left parties in the post-poll scenario, expressing confidence that the Communists would accept Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister and a Congress-led government.
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At a press conference here, he was, however, sure that the Congress would form a government. “But in a democracy, if it so happens, we have no choice,” he said in reply to a question whether Congress would sit in the opposition.
Asked if Congress would support the Left parties, which had supported the UPA for over four years, in forming the government, Gandhi appeared to be sarcastic when he said, “We will consider that if the Left gets 180-190 MPs. We will consider them. I hope they are able to achieve that. If they do, I will be first person to say let us support Left”.
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At the outset, he expressed confidence that the Congress would return to power and that the BJP-led NDA was finished on the ground.
Gandhi was asked whether the Congress would consider a post-poll tie up again with the Left for forming the government in case of a hung verdict.
“....On a lot of concepts we agree with the Left like education and health. There is a lot of meeting ground with the Left. There is absolutely no meeting ground with BJP for what they did in Gujarat and Karnataka and burnt Christians in Orissa. There is a lot of common ground to do with the Left. There is a reasonable amount of common space,” he replied.
Gandhi said Congress was always open to post-poll alliances and at a later point in reference to the Left, he made it clear that “the field is open to post-poll alliances”.
Asked whether the Congress would compromise on its prime ministerial candidate if the Left was not ready for Manmohan Singh, Gandhi said “Singh is the best prime ministerial candidate for the country. The Congress does not compromise on its thinking which it showed on the nuclear deal.
“I am confident that the Left will support Manmohan Singh government. I am confident that the Left would rather have a Congress Prime Minister,” he said.
Saying his views on the Left was his personal, he said he did say that the Left had old ideas -- 20 to 30 years old view on nuclear deal -- and integration with global economy but he was confident that the Left would be forced to accept that the world has changed.
He also had some good words for Telugu Desam chief N Chandrababu Naidu and Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar in their performance in their governments.
Earlier in the press conference, Gandhi referred to Jayalalithaa-led AIADMK and Nitish Kumar saying they were like-minded parties.
“After elections, all options are open. NDA partners are looking at where is NDA. It exists only in the mind of the BJP. NDA does not exist on the ground. It is gone,” he said.
To a query on contradictions in UPA with Congress projecting Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister and another UPA ally Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) projecting Sharad Pawar for the top job, Gandhi said again in a sarcastic, “If NCP becomes the biggest party in India that option is open.
“If Congress becomes the biggest party, then we have already decided that Manmohan Singh will be automatic choice. He is an extremely dynamic leader and he has done terrific things for the country.”
Gandhi also indicated that the question of prime ministership is not negotiable for the party by describing him “as the best Prime Minister the country could have.”
He dismissed as “figment of media’s imagination” suggestions that the allies of the Congress were not backing Manmohan Singh as PM.
“They have full faith in our Prime Minister,” he said hoping that the Congress would better in this election than it did the last time.
Asked whether he would take over as Congress president in view of his stance that he would like to build the organization or become a minister in a UPA government, he made light of the question saying the media was always putting pressure on him to take up new responsibilities.
“It is for the Prime Minister and my boss (Congress president) to decide,” he said adding his first preference was to build the organization especially the youth wing.