"Certainly, I am quite confident that Rahul Gandhi has all the potential and ability to not only perform but also to lead the party at an appropriate time," he told PTI. He was replying to a question on whether projecting Gandhi as the next prime ministerial candidate of the party could help better Congress fortunes.
Singh, however, said this is an issue on which the party has to decide. "I can't say anything on it," he said when asked whether the Congress should project Gandhi as its next prime minister.
Singh said the Congress will be led by party President Sonia Gandhi in the 2014 elections. "There is no doubt about it. We are working as a team in which Rahul will be an important part," he said when asked about the leadership role in Congress in 2014.
Singh, who had been seeking a larger role for Gandhi, made it clear that the larger role does not mean presidentship of the party.
Asked what responsibility Gandhi could take, he said, "This is to be decided by the Congress President". "He (Rahul) has been confining himself to student politics and youth politics. He should come to the mainstream of the Congress party," Singh said.
"The majority of Congress workers want Rahul to play a far greater role in mainstream of Congress politics rather than confining himself to students and youth Congress," Singh said when asked what expectations people have in the party from Rahul Gandhi.
When asked what difference could Gandhi bring to Congress' fortunes, Singh pointed to the democratisation of NSUI and Youth Congress under Rahul's charge and said that if similar organisational changes are brought into the mainstream of Congress, it would help the party.
"Have you not noticed the elections in NSUI? The Congress leaders could never believe that there could be elections in Youth Congress. One of the major problems in the Congress party is the lack of organisation and the lack of organisation is due to the methodology adopted in our holding of organizational elections," he said.
The senior Congress leader also dismissed doubts that Gandhi cannot bring results for the party because his campaign did not get the desired results in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar assembly elections.
Singh explained that Gandhi cannot be sitting in every polling booth to convert the support into votes. "It is the lack of the organisation of the Congress party in UP that led to us not getting more than 29 seats in the state," he said by way of answering Congress' failure in UP.
"We were able to convince the voters to vote out the Bahujan Samaj Party but we were not able to convince them that we are in a position to form the government.It was a lack of organisation in UP and a lack of state leadership that cost us," he said.
Singh also dismissed comparisons between Rahul Gandhi and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi amid indications that the Bharatiya Janata Party could be projecting Modi as its Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014. "I would not put Rahul Gandhi against Narendra Modi. I do not accept that.There is no comparison between the two".
Modi is of no consequence as far as the Congress party is concerned, he said. "He (Modi) may be a big leader in Gujarat ....how many seats Gujarat gives to Parliament," Singh said when asked who is the Congress answer to Modi.
Expressing the hope that the Congress will come to power in most of the BJP-ruled states going to elections in the next year, Singh said the party could not make it in Gujarat in the last Assembly election because it did not perform well in its strongholds of northern Gujarat and Saurashtra. He claimed that Congress stands a good chance of coming to power in Gujarat if it could fare well in its strongholds.