Sonia Gandhi, Singh to fight India elections: Congress
Congress Party president Sonia Gandhi (centre) speaks with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh (right) during a ceremony in New Delhi on October 28, 2012. India's ruling Congress will fight the 2014 general elections under the leadership of party president Sonia Gandhi and octogenarian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a senior party leader said Saturday.
The issue of whom the embattled Congress will project as premier has become a topic of heated speculation with Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi, the next in line in India's top political dynasty, showing deep reluctance to take the role.
The party will fight the 2014 polls "under the leadership of (party president and Rahul's mother) Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh" and will not project any prime ministerial candidate, Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh said.
"We will go to the elections under (their) leadership," the veteran party leader said.
"If we get a majority and form the government, it will be decided then who will be the prime minister," he added.
His statements came after Gandhi, 42, who hails from a line of three prime ministers and has widely been seen as being groomed for the job, called the issue of whether he would be the prime ministerial candidate "irrelevant" on Thursday.
Prime Minister Singh, 80, indicated Friday he might be willing to continue in the job, telling reporters, "I am not ruling it in, I am not ruling it out," after being initially expected to bow out of politics.
India's Hindu nationalist opposition BJP is expected to field Gujarat chief Narendra Modi, 62, who is hailed as an economic manager but is a divisive figure nationally after being at the state's helm during deadly 2002 religious riots.
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram, a pro-market reformer who is also often mentioned as a potential prime ministerial candidate, said separately the government is determined to finish its five-year term.
"There will be no early elections. Elections will take place on time in May 2014," Chidambaram told a news conference as he issued an upbeat economic outlook, predicting faster growth and healthier public sector finances.
Talk of snap polls has been fanned by the exit of the scandal-tainted coalition's two biggest allies in recent months, leaving it in a vulnerable minority position in parliament.
But Chidambaram said the government had a wide-ranging economic agenda it wished to complete, including further opening up the insurance and pensions sectors to foreign investment.
He forecast India's record current account deficit, the broadest measure of trade which has triggered alarm among global credit ratings agencies, will fall to "a more tolerable and acceptable level".
Growth should quicken to over six percent in this financial year which began on April 1 from an estimated decade-low of five percent last year, he added.
The government is looking at a further easing of foreign direct investment caps -- after relaxing them in the aviation, retail and other sectors last September -- to attract vital funds from abroad, he added.
"If the cap is no longer serving a purpose, we should either relax the cap or remove the cap."
- Drugmaker GSK fined $490 mn in China graft probe: Xinhua
- China insists wealthy countries should improve emission targets
- Scottish nationalists in tears after 'devastating' result
- China troops withdraw from India border as Xi visit ends
- Asian Games to open 'Gangnam Style'
- Scotland rejects independence in historic referendum
- Vatican shrugs off warning of Islamic State plot against pope in Albania
- Scots spurn independence, vote to stay in the United Kingdom
- China separatism trial of Muslim scholar ends, verdict due next week
- China's Li Na retires over knee injuries
- Top ulama orders PAS delegates to stop debate on leadership discord
- Malaysia to meet Singapore over Causeway toll hike
- Malaysian Bar holds EGM to decide on march against Sedition Act
- High court dismisses ex-CLP director’;s defamation suit – Bernama
- Global labour body urges Putrajaya to end forced labour in electronics industry
- Full compensation will be given to MH17 families, says MAS
- Civil aviation authorities told to expedite MH17 data analysis – Bernama
- Najib promises to pursue justice for MH17 victims – Bernama
- Malaysian electronics workers abused, not allowed unions, MTUC says
- MRT reveals findings on accident which claimed three lives
- Customs director, 7 officers in the dock for bribery
- Adam Adli’;s sedition verdict will not scare us, say PKR Youth, netizens
- A-G gets stay order for top cop to arrest spouse in custody battle
- I have not received invitation for Selangor MB swearing-in, says Iskandar
- PAS grassroots leader uses prayer to hit out at others