Nine years on, Sonia, PM put up show of unity, Singh hints at unfinished business

Sonia GandhiManmohan, Sonia release the UPA-2 report card on Wednesday (AP)

Congress president Sonia Gandhi Wednesday sought to stamp out the popular assumption that there are two power centres in the UPA and asserted that she had no differences with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Using the platform of the fourth anniversary celebrations of UPA-2, Sonia publicly acknowledged Singh's leadership of the government for the last nine years and stressed that "we all stand by him".

"There are no differences between the Prime Minister and me. There is collective leadership," Sonia said. Her remarks were seen as implying that Singh would complete his term and that there was no scope for leadership change at this juncture to make way for Rahul Gandhi, as speculated in some quarters.

Singh too acknowledged that there was never any difference of opinion with the Congress president, and on the contrary, she provided him with strength in steering the government.

"Ms Gandhi has always been a constant source of inspiration. She has in fact helped me navigate the coalition. There has never been any differences in these last nine years," he said, adding that he never felt the need for any reassurance from her because he "always had that assurance".

The two power centre hypothesis had come under focus after AICC general secretary Digvijaya Singh expressed strong views against such an arrangement. The BJP was quick to grab it to attack the UPA to suggest that the political leadership and executive head were not on the same page on policy issues.

"The Prime Minister is carrying out his responsibility with great dignity in the face of unrelenting hostility and abuse from the Opposition. We respect him and we all stand by him," Sonia said while addressing the select audience. The Congress and its partners have been working closely and unitedly all these years, she added.

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