UPA to decide on PM candidate after polls, says Lalu Prasad (Lead)

Patna, April 21 (Inditop) Manmohan Singh is not the final choice for prime minister if the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) comes back to power, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad asserted Tuesday and said the decision on the top job would be taken only after the elections.

Though the Congress has projected Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the man for the job if UPA wins the polls, key alliance partner Lalu Prasad said the decision would be taken by all the constituents of the UPA, not just the Congress.

“UPA is a confederation of secular parties and does not belong only to the Congress. We will sit together (after the elections) to chalk out a common minimum programme and in consultation with all our partners select the next PM,” the railway minister said at a press conference here before leaving for the last day of campaigning for the second phase of polls on Thursday.

When asked whether he no longer supported Manmohan Singh for the prime minister’s post, he said: “Manmohan Singh acche aadmi hain (Manmohan Singh is a nice man).”

Lalu Prasad’s statement comes just weeks after he declared at a press conference in Lucknow on April 3 that Manmohan Singh would be the prime ministerial candidate.

“…We are with the Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh. There are certain managers in the Congress who tried to create a rift between us during the seat sharing discussion. However, we still say that Manmohan Singh will be our PM candidate,” he was reported as saying in Lucknow.

The latest remarks come two days after he accused the Congress of being responsible for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, along with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

“The BJP and Advani were mainly responsible for the demolition but the Congress cannot escape responsibility for its failure to protect it,” he said at an election rally in Darbhanga.