The Congress will not declare Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate in the Lok Sabha elections, senior party leader Digvijaya Singh hinted on Friday.
"We do not have a presidential form of government. The Congress party does not declare PM or chief ministerial candidates before elections. Even in the Karnataka assembly elections, we had not declared any CM candidate," said Singh.
He was replying to questions on why the Congress was diffident about projecting Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate of the party.
Singh also indicated that the Congress was not averse to doing business with the Left Front after the next elections and claimed that the advent of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi could lead to communal polarisation in the polls.
Asked about the Modi’s elevation as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Campaign Committee chief, Singh said, "We are not concerned. It is not an issue with us. The BJP is free to take any decision. We are in the politics of ideology and not personality, the Congress party does not believe in the politics of polarisation."
Asked whether the Congress treats Modi as a political challenge and about Union minister Jairam Ramesh's comments -- that Modi presented a managerial and ideological challenge to the party -- Singh said, "The very name of Modi and before that of (senior BJP leader) L K Advani give an impression of polarization”.
"It is not Modi. It is the ideology of the Sangh Parivar and the BJP which believes in divisive politics. It is the politics of hatred and violence based on religious lines which is the challenge," he said.
Singh sidestepped a query on whether Prime Minister Manmohan Singh could again be the Congress' PM candidate.
"First the country has to give us a mandate again and then the Parliamentary Party and the party chief have to take a decision in consultation with elected Parliamentarians," he said.
To a question on whether the Left Front, which supported the United Progressive Alliance in its first term, is a natural ally of the Congress, Singh said, "We had a very good experience for the first four years of working with the Left Front, but unfortunately, they made a big issue of the nuclear bill".
The Left Front had withdrawn support to protest the UPA government’s decision to ink a Civil Nuclear Bill with the United States administration.
"My own perception is that with the Left, we know the parameters in which we work together. It is easier to work with the Left because we know the parameters in which they work,” he said.
Talking about the decision of the Janata Dal – United to walk out of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance and whether the party can be a part of the UPA, Singh said the issue has to be considered by the Congress high command.
"(JD-U leader) Nitish Kumar did not resign when there was an accident in Godhra and he was the railway minister. Now he (Kumar) has taken a positive step, which is of course a very bold step, which we appreciate. My own view is if he had shown this courage in the last Bihar election, the BJP would not have got so many seats and it would have landed in the same position as it has in Odisha, where Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked the party to leave the coalition," he said.
Asked whether the Rashtriya Janata Dal was its natural ally in Bihar, Singh said it was for the Congress committee led by A K Antony to decide.
On the poll-plank of the Congress for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, he said, "Our campaign theme will be the work done in the last ten years and the work we will be doing in the next five years."
"UPA-II has managed to give a sustained growth even during the worst economic crisis. UPA pumped more money in lot of development schemes that led to high spending in rural areas," Singh said.
He also rejected suggestions that UPA II's image has suffered a jolt and cited Congress victories in assembly elections in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka -- states where it has ousted the BJP from power.
"If the party’s image is so badly hit, why have the votes of Congress increased in every election post 2009, except in Goa and Bihar,” he asked.
"While the Congress has added more than 100 seats in the earlier tally in the assembly elections, BJP has lost not only states like Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka, but also lost more than 90 seats since the last Lok Sabha election," Singh said.
Asked about UPA allies Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam and Trinamool Congress deserting the alliance, he said that in any coalition, there are always instances of allies which had initially supported the government and then left it, so there was nothing new about this phenomenon.