Manmohan Singh may have filed nomination for yet another Rajya Sabha term hoping for a hat-trick as Prime Minister in the event of the Congress returning to power in 2014, but Defence Minister A K Antony, the official No. 2 in the government and the “political guru” of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, is also making the right moves.
Antony, whom Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul trust absolutely, is meeting the right people at the right time and playing his “Mr clean” card quite well, albeit in a subdued manner.
Last week, he met a CPM Politburo member and discussed “the need” for the Congress and Left to join hands once again.
“The Politburo member had come to attend the Central Committee meeting and wanted to meet Antony. But quite surprisingly, when asked for an appointment, Antony said he will come to our place,” said a source.
The Left’s support in the eventuality of the UPA failing to cross the 200-mark serves the interest of not just the Congress but also Antony.
“It is quite possible that the Left may support the Congress to keep away the BJP. But one thing is for sure that the government will not be headed by Manmohan,” said the CPM leader.
”Sonia is clever enough to understand that if it needs the Left’s support, the Congress should have someone clean like Antony at its helm,” he said.
A CPI leader who met Antony recently echoed this line.
Antony endorsed KPCC president Ramesh Chennithala for the home minister portfolio last week, apparently in order to win over upper-caste Hindus, whose support may come handy should the Defence Minister’s Christian identity cause any difficulty for Sonia in appointing him Prime Minister.
“He is more Hindu than any Hindu Congress leader and his open support to Chennithala is quite tactical,” said an Antony loyalist who recalled his remark on minority communities “cornering undue benefits through political arm-twisting”.
“Antony will never go to a church but for his mother’s death anniversary. But he will see to it that he visits Mata Amritanandamayi whenever she comes to Delhi,” said a source.