- MK Stalin suggested Rahul Gandhi as opposition's PM face in 2019
- Other opposition parties including Samajwadi Party had rejected the idea
- Mamata Banerjee said now was not the time to make the decision
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is at the forefront of talks for an anti-BJP federal alliance for 2019 general elections, on Wednesday shot down DMK chief MK Stalin's idea that Congress president Rahul Gandhi be named the opposition's prime ministerial face. The time was not right for such discussions, she said.
"I am not alone (in the proposed alliance). We are working together. So whatever all the political parties who have come together decide, we will accept that. Now is not the right time. Let us hope for the day when there will be a good change," Mamata Banerjee told reporters at the state secretariat in Kolkata.
In a show of opposition unity, a number of leaders of regional parties attended on Sunday the unveiling of a statue of DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi, who died in August. At the political meeting later, MK Stalin said, "Rahul has got the ability to defeat fascist Modi government. Let's strengthen Rahul Gandhi's hands, let's save the country".
The suggestion was immediately rejected by other parties, including Samajwadi Party, N Chandrababu Naidu's Telugu Desam Party, Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress, Farooq Abdullah's National Conference, Lalu Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal and the CPM.
The Trinamool had said that any such announcement would be premature and might create a divide within the opposition camp before 2019 general election.
Mr Stalin put out a statement on Monday, defending his idea. "Projecting Rahul Gandhi for PM is the right thing to unite secular forces," he said.
The Congress under Mr Gandhi's leadership unseated the BJP in three Hindi heartland states -- Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh.
Earlier this year, Mr Gandhi had said he was not averse to becoming the prime minister of the country, provided his party emerges as the single-largest party in 2019.
After Mr Stalin's proposal, even the Congress said, however, that the decision on a prime minister should be left to alliance partners after the national elections.
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