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"Only Gandhi family can keep Congress party united...": Karnataka Deputy CM DK Shivakumar

New Delhi: Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister DK Shivakumar on Tuesday said that Congress Parliamentary Party Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and party leader Rahul Gandhi "sacrificed" the post of Prime Minister, adding that only the Gandhi family can keep the Congress party "united."

Karnataka Deputy Chief Minister said that when Congress was in a difficult situation, Sonia Gandhi brought the party back to power in the country in 2004.

In an interview with ANI Shivakumar said, "She (Sonia Gandhi) has been very successful in bringing the Congress government. The Congress Party was in a very difficult position. And she brought the Congress Party back to power. And she made Manmohan Singh the Prime Minister when all the MPs, irrespective of UPA, wanted her to become the Prime Minister. The entire UPA wanted her to be the Prime Minister. She sacrificed for an economist. That is the greatest sacrifice in the history of the world that a woman has refused to avail an opportunity to become the Prime Minister. For the sake of the country, she nominated Manmohan Singh. That is the biggest sacrifice the Gandhi family made for this country."

Sonia Gandhi, took the reins of the Congress party as President in 1998, seven years after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, her husband and a former Prime Minister of India, and remained in office until 2017.

When asked whether Rahul Gandhi would make the same kind of 'sacrifice' if the Congress party won the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, Shivakumar said that the decision would be taken by the Parliament members of the party, adding that he (Rahul Gandhi) is fighting for the sake of the "unity of this country."

"First, let us all join. The party and the parliament members will take a call. He (Rahul Gandhi) is our leader who is fighting for the sake of the unity of this country and for keeping that everyone should be united, whatever may be the price, He is fighting for the country. No one in the history of this country has walked as far as he has," he added.

"A big sacrifice he (Rahul Gandhi) has made for this country. He could also have become the Prime Minister. He could have also become the Prime Minister after Manmohan Singh. He never looked at power. He wanted the party to be in power. He said, no. I want an economist (Manmohan Singh) and let him run this show. He (Rahul Gandhi) didn't look at power," the Karnataka Deputy CM said.

Shivakumar further said that Rahul Gandhi is fighting for the party and Wayanad MP has given the party members a lot of strength.

"There was an opportunity. There was pressure from among all of us that he (Rahul Gandhi) should take the lead. But still, he said, let Manmohan Singh run the country. See, one thing you should know. Only the Gandhi family can keep the Congress Party united and when the Congress Party is united, the country is united. This is the biggest strength of the history of the Congress Party. It has kept this country united," the Karnataka Deputy CM said.

Shivakumar refused to comment on the possibility of Rahul Gandhi not willing to become Prime Minister, he said, "I will not comment on this. Let this Parliamentary election be over. I will not shy away from commenting later. I'll come and meet you again."

Earlier in 2004, the BJP went in for early elections alongside launching an 'India Shining' campaign. The BJP managed to win only 138 seats, while the Congress won 145. CPM won 43 seats, SP got 43 seats and RJD won 24 seats. Others again ruled the roost with 157 seats.

The BJP conceded defeat and the Congress then formed the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) with support from other parties and Manmohan Singh was chosen as the Prime Minister.

Dr Manmohan Singh was sworn in as Prime Minister on May 22 after the 2004 general elections and took the oath of office for a second term on May 22, 2009.

Notably, the 18th Lok Sabha elections for 543 Lok Sabha seats in the country will be held in seven phases starting April 19, 2024. The counting of the votes will take place on June 4.

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