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Sonia says its leader "no sycophancy please"

New Delhi, Wed, 16 Apr 2008 NI Wire

Congress high command perhaps did not like the way Rahul Gandhi was being projected as the next prime ministerial candidate by some of the senior cabinet ministers of the party comprising its two allies and sent out a strong message to stop sycophancy.

A day after HRD Minister Arjun Singh’s vociferous proposal and External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee statement supporting Singh for projecting the youth icon Rahul Gandhi as a nominee for the post of prime minister for the forthcoming general election, the Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the party’s general secretary Rahul Gandhi against the expectation of some leaders did not like the recent development.

The Congress party issued a stern statement describing projecting Rahul as a next prime ministerial choice as an act of sycophancy. The statement said that the party would like to put an end to all speculation. Both Congress president and general secretary have always stayed from the environment of sycophancy.

The statement came from the party perhaps after realising that such controversial development could send out a wrong signal within the party and the entire nation. Moreover, the Congress president would not like to undermine the position of Manmohan Singh. The Congress reiterated that the PM post was not vacant and Dr. Singh was doing remarkable job and will remain party’s prime ministerial candidate. So there was no question of replacement.

Although the clarification from the party back up by warning to its leaders to stop sycophancy has cleared the confusion, but the entire episode again has brought to focus the embarrassing position of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has long been criticised for being a puppet and a weak leader.

Origin of the issue

The whole drama commenced on Monday after HRD Minister Arjun Singh in an interview with a news agency enthusiastically echoed Rahul Gandhi’s name for the prime minister’s candidate. The next day External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee lent tacit approval to the idea. To a query from the media, Mukherjee said, “There is nothing wrong in what he said. It’s universal truth that leadership goes to the younger generation.”

Earlier on Monday, Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) an ally of UPA also said it would support to Rahul as prime ministerial candidate. Another ally the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) also gave indication that it would support the candidate whomever the Congress projected whether it was Congress President Sonia Gandhi or the young Rahul Gandhi.

The political experts were of the view that the statement made out by Arjun Singh was not accidental. The attempt perhaps made with the purpose of ingratiate himself with the Gandhi family, and thus to secure his own position within the government.

The leadership issue has now been settled down. But, indeed the episode has opened a debate what is good for the country- an experienced leader or the youth leader. What would work for India a power of experience or the rigour of youth?

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