Updated: September 26, 2021 9:56:42 am
Union Minister Ramdas Athawale said Congress president Sonia Gandhi should have become prime minister when the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) first came to power in 2004, saying that her “foreign origin” issue was meaningless as she is an Indian citizen and a Lok Sabha member.
Addressing a press conference in Indore on Saturday, Athawale said: “When the UPA got a majority in the 2004 elections, I had proposed that Sonia Gandhi should become Prime Minister. I was of the view that her foreign origin issue had no meaning. If Kamala Harris can become Vice President of the US then why couldn’t Sonia Gandhi, a citizen of India, wife of Rajiv Gandhi (former PM) and elected Lok Sabha MP, couldn’t become the Prime Minister?”
He also said if Sonia Gandhi was not willing to accept the PM’s post at that time then she should have made veteran leader and NCP chief Sharad Pawar the PM instead of Manmohan Singh.
Describing Pawar as a public leader and a deserving candidate for the PM’s post, the RPI (A) chief said, “He (Pawar) should have been made PM in place of Manmohan Singh but Sonia Gandhi did not do so”.
Incidentally, Pawar was expelled from Congress for raising the issue of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin in 1999. He later formed the NCP, which is now in alliance with the Congress and Shiv Sena in Maharashtra.
Athawale also said had Pawar become the country’s PM in 2004, the Congress’ position would have been strengthened and that party could have been saved from its present precarious condition.
Athawale also appealed to Amarinder Singh, who stepped down recently as Punjab chief minister owing to a power tussle in the state party unit, to join the BJP or the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in view of “humiliation” meted out to him by Congress.
“If Singh joins the BJP, the party’s position will be strengthened in the upcoming Assembly elections in Punjab,” he said.
With PTI inputs
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