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Shinde says Pawar should be PM, clamour for Rahul lessens now

Speaking at an event in Solapur in Maharashtra, veteran Congress leader Shinde said that he would be happy to see Sharad Pawar as the prime minister. ‘I would be happy if Pawar becomes the PM. He is my political guru. I entered politics because of him,’ Shinde told reporters. ‘Everyone has an ambition. He has been trying since 1992. There is no reason for (having) two views on this (Pawar as PM). I have said this many times, even on national platform,’ said Shinde.

Amidst media reports that Rahul Gandhi’s name is likely to be announced on 17 January at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session as the party’s prime-ministerial candidate, Shinde’s statement has added complexity to the issue. After prime minister Manmohan Singh in his recent press conference ruled out a third term, there was a strong buzz that the Congress party will declare Rahul as the PM candidate. ‘I will hand over the baton to a new prime minister aftert the general elections. The (Congress) party will announce a prime ministerial candidate at the appropriate time,’ Singh had said.

Even though the Congress leadership was under pressure from grass-root level leaders to announce Rahul Gandhi’s name as the prime ministerial candidate of the party ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, but with adverse political results in the recent state assembly elections, the party high command is slowly rethinking its decision to anoint Gandhi, said highly-placed sources within the party.

Political observers feel a senior Congress leader like Shinde whose is a trusted member of the Gandhi family would not go ahead and make such a comment without the approval of the party’s high command. Congress insiders say that after Shinde’s statement the party might think about announcing it’s prime-ministerial candidate after the poll results are out.

BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar on Saturday took a  dig at the Congress on this issue: ‘In a way, Shinde has already conceded that no Congress leader will be the next PM. He may daydream about who should be prime minister but the people have already reposed their faith in Narendra Modi’s leadership.’
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