Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday indicated readiness to make way for Rahul Gandhi if the United Progressive Alliance wins the Lok Sabha elections next year.
"I have always said, as far as I am concerned, I would be very happy to see Rahul step into my shoes. I always believe we will have a third go at the elections as the UPA and people will again repose their faith in us," he told the media in New Delhi. He gave this reply when asked he would make way for Rahul Gandhi if UPA-III comes to power.
The PM's statement is significant as he had on earlier two occasions virtually not ruled out himself being in the race for the top post again if the UPA wins a hat trick. Describing Gandhi as a "natural leader", Dr Singh said he would be very happy to see the young leader "step into his shoes".
"Rahul Gandhi is a natural leader of the Congress. I hope he will lead the UPA. I always believe Rahul is fit enough and has the right qualities of a leader," Dr Singh told journalists after eight new faces were inducted into his council of ministers at a ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.
The PM brushed aside a query on whether Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi posed a challenge with a twitch to the eyebrow.
"Modi is no threat. People of India know what he stands for... People of India have to draw their own conclusion what they stand for," Dr Singh said.