No rift, Manmohan Singh will be PM till 2014: Congress

Dismissing reports that its vice president Rahul Gandhi may replace Manmohan Singh after a rift between the latter and party chief Sonia Gandhi over the dropping of two ministers, the Congress Monday said the prime minister will continue till the 2014 polls.

Following up on Sunday's statement that the dropping of Union Ministers P K Bansal and Ashwani Kumar was a "joint decision" of Gandhi and Singh, the party claimed there "cannot be a better relationship" between any party chief and Prime Minister than the two top leaders have. 

The statement came in the wake of media reports of growing differences between Congress leadership and the Prime Minister.

The reports had suggested that Singh was not keen on removing Kumar and Bansal but was forced to do so by Gandhi.

Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi
The Congress has asserted that there's no rift between party president Sonia Gandhi (right) and PM Manmohan Singh.

"We refute such rumours and malicious campaign. No new decision has to be made in this matter," Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters to queries if Rahul Gandhi could replace Manmohan Singh before the monsoon session of parliament in July-August.

The AICC general secretary today recalled that when the party's election manifesto for 2009 general elections was being released, Gandhi had covered with her hand her photo on its first page and showed Singh's picture to people saying that the latter will become Prime Minister after the elections if Congress won.

"Even after this, whenever there was an occasion, the party said clearly that Manmohan Singh will remain PM till 2014. The same situation prevails now. No new decision has been taken about this issue in any other manner," he said.

Stating the understanding between the prime minister and Congress president was the most "perfect relationship that can exist between a party chief and a prime minister", Dwivedi said "the rumour mongers would again suffer a loss of face as in the past".

"I hope they have some sense," he said.

Dwivedi recalled that Sonia Gandhi had declared before the 2009 general elections that Manmohan Singh will be the prime minister if the Congress gets mandate to form the government.

Dwivedi had said Sunday that the decision to drop railway minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and law minister Ashwani Kumar was a "joint decision" of Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi after reports in a section of the media said that it was at her insistence that the two ministers were asked to resign.

Bansal had resigned following the arrest of his nephew for allegedly accepting a bribe for fixing a promotion in the Railway Board. Ashwaani Kumar quit in the wake of the controversy over his vetting the Central Board of Investigation (CBI) probe report in the allocations of coal blocks. 

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