New Delhi: The Congress cannot spare Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the party said Thursday, ruling out his candidature as president. The Congress also rejected former president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and former speaker Somnath Chatterjee proposed by the Trinamool Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) for the high post.
“During United Progressive Alliance (UPA) second (term) it was decided that Manmohan Singh will stay prime minister till 2014. We cannot afford to spare Dr. Manmohan Singh. He is our prime ministerial candidate and this is our commitment to the people of the country,” Congress leader Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters.
It was the first comment of the party since Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee and Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav Wednesday listed Manmohan Singh as one of their preferred choices for the president’s post.
“I want to keep it straight… Congress president as United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson started talks with all allies and supporters. During the first round of talks, two names came up and they were of Pranab Mukherjee and Hamid Ansari,” Dwivedi said.
“When Mamata met her (Gandhi), the Congress chief told her that these two names have come up for presidential elections. When two names have come up, this does not mean that Congress has decided on one name,” he said.
Dwivedi said that such talks happen indoors and should not be talked in public.
“None of other allies have spoken about names in public. Had the Congress decided the name, then there would have been one name not two…”
Reacting to names of Kalam and Chatterjee as possible presidential candidates, Dwivedi said: “These are not acceptable to us.”