Picking Singh as PM over Pranab led to rout: Khurshid

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Old 16-Dec-2015
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Picking Singh as PM over Pranab led to rout: Khurshid

Former Union minister Salman Khurshid says the seeds of Congress's 2014 drubbing were sown in the choice of Manmohan Singh over Pranab Mukherjee as Prime Minister. He, however, seems conflicted over his assessment of Singh's political strength.

According to agency reports, Khurshid has written a book in which he weighs in on the 'Singh over Pranab' debate. He has been quoted as saying that Singh's selection over Mukherjee came as a surprise to all and many feel the party would have avoided the 2014 humiliation if the choice of PM had been different.

However, Khurshid adds, "It's always easy to be wise after the worst has happened. We must not forget the whole nation had applauded Manmohan Singh as the game-changer finance minister during the Narasimha Rao regime."

The remarks could revive interest in the issue that was put to rest after Mukherjee's election to Rashtrapati Bhavan. Mukherjee, the President, was a strong candidate for prime ministership in 2004 because of his seniority and his experience, but he is believed to have lost out on "trust deficit" with the leadership.

Mukherjee went on to become the most important member in Congress and UPA Cabinet during the two UPA tenures, working as firefighter on issues of organization and government policy alike. He, however, nudged the leadership to nominate him for the election to presidency towards the end of UPA-2.

Khurshid's book -- "The Other Side of the Mountain" -- makes a mixed comment about Singh. Khurshid points to his political weakness by recalling how he lost in 1999 Lok Sabha polls to Vijay Malhotra, from the safest seat of South Delhi. But, at the same time, he adds that Singh's choice as PM was not only welcomed by party members but also vindicated by the electoral verdict of 2009 when Congress returned to power with thumping numbers.

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