June 2019
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Cong not averse to supporting regional party leader for PM post: Ghulam Nabi
Shimla/New Delhi: The Congress is not averse to supporting any regional party leader for the Prime Minister''s post even if it emerges as the single largest party, Congress leader Gulam Nabi Azad said on Thursday. "My party high command has already made it clear that the Congress is not averse to making a prime minister from any regional party," Azad told reporters in Shimla. He was asked if the Congress will be ready to support any regional party leader for the PM''s post even if it emerges as the largest party in a hung Parliament.

Speaking in the same vein in Patna on Wednesday, Azad had said the Congress will not make it an issue if the PM''s post is not offered to it. Azad''s remarks assume significance as the Congress has been asserting that it would be the fulcrum of any non-NDA government, which was seen as its claim for the PM''s post and had led some major regional parties to maintain a distance from it. Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala, however, seemed not to agree with Azad. He said the Congress believes it will be the single largest party in the country, subject to final outcome on May 23.

"Naturally, the biggest political party should get a chance to lead," he told reporters here. "All Congressmen believe that we will be biggest political party and as the biggest political party, we should be leading this country holding hand with all other like-minded political parties interested in giving a stable democratic, liberal and secular government to the country," he added. On the question that in the event of no party getting simple majority in Lok Sabha polls, whom should the President call, Surjewala said, "I think the norm on that is fairly established by the Supreme Court...and the norm as I understand is whoever has the largest number in pre-poll alliance is normally called first. And that is the settled principle as laid down by the Supreme Court."

Earlier, Azad in an apparent mellowing of Congress'' stand on the PM''s post, had said in Patna, "It will be good if there is a consensus on Congress leader''s name for heading the government at the Centre after the Lok Sabha election results are out. But we are not going to make it an issue that we (Congress) will not let any other (leader) to become the PM, if it is not offered to us (Congress)." The Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha had said the sole objective of the Congress is to stop the NDA from forming the government at the Centre.

Asked about Modi''s assurance of constructing a ''grand statue'' of 19th century reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar at the same spot where his bust was vandalised in Kolkata, the Congress leader replied, "Now he should prepare for installing his own statute." Azad, however, was quick to add that "some alive persons also erect their statutes as BSP supremo Mayawati had done in UP".

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