Hyderabad: Congress president Rahul Gandhi may not stake claim to be Prime Minister if the party does not get a majority on its own in the Lok Sabha.
In the 1989 elections, the Congress could win 197 seats and he refused to stake claim. After the V.P. Singh government fell, the Congress backed the short-lived dispensation before pulling out support and necessitating the 1991 elections.
In 2004, then Congress president Sonia Gandhi refused to head the government at the Centre as the Congress could not cross the half-way mark in the Lok Sabha. Dr Manmohan Singh was picked up to head the UPA government, something that was repeated in 2009.
In this backdrop, political circles expect Mr Rahul Gandhi will stake claim only if the Congress goes past the 272 mark on its own.
Else, the party will keep its options open for their coalition partners to suggest a candidate from among the UPA or even outside.
According to speculation in political circles including in the Congress, the party high command would task senior leaders including former union minister A.K. Antony and Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot to assess the reactions of UPA partners as well parties that have maintaining distance from the BJP.
Amid speculation that several non-BJP Chief Ministers do not want Prime Minister Narendra Modi to continue for anot-her term, the Congress high command plans to involve senior leaders like Mr P. Chidambaram, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad, Mr Antony and several others to lobby with regional parties like the TRS, Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, YSR Congress and the Biju Janata Dal.
Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi became Prime Minister only when the party enjoyed a majority. At other times, the Congr-ess fielded P.V. Narasimha Rao and Dr Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister. The only exception was Lal Bahadur Shastri.
Mr Gandhi’s praise of BSP chief Mayawati was an indication that the Congress had made up its mind to keep all options open, party sources said.
While the Congress could back an alliance partner for the Prime Minister, it could keep the top job with itself if it wins a sufficiently large number of seats but not enough to form government.
Rajiv Gandhi had enjoy-ed absolute majority in the elections after the assassination of then PM Indira Gandhi, winning over 410 seats....