Cong’s 2014 sig­nal: Rahul is their No 2

FOR­MAL Anointed V-P, 42-yr-old prom­ises to ‘trans­form’ party

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - HT Navi Mumbai Live - - FRONT PAGE - Varugh­ese K Ge­orge and Au­rangazeb Naqsh­bandi let­[email protected]­dus­tan­times.com

JAIPUR: The Congress party anointed Rahul Gandhi as its vi­cepres­i­dent on Satur­day, bring­ing the fifth-gen­er­a­tion mem­ber of In­dia’s most fa­mous fam­ily firmly into the po­lit­i­cal line of fire.

The move, an­nounced at the party’s con­clave here, makes Rahul the pre­sump­tive prime min­is­te­rial can­di­date and sets up a pos­si­ble show­down in 2014 with Naren­dra Modi if the BJP re­lents to pres­sure from its cadres and moves the Gu­jarat CM to Delhi.

For now, the Congress stopped short of nam­ing Rahul the can­di­date for the coun­try’s top job, per­haps out of con­sid­er­a­tion for its sit­ting oc­to­ge­nar­ian PM Man­mo­han Singh.

“What role Rahul would as­sume for the 2014 elec­tions would be de­cided later,” gen­eral sec­re­tary Ja­nar­dan Dwivedi, who an­nounced the de­ci­sion by the Congress Work­ing Com­mit­tee, said. “With his ap­point­ment, he has been el­e­vated to No 2 in the Congress. And I am sure that he will strengthen the party.”

If the Congress wins power in 2014, Rahul, who is a youth­ful 42, may find it eas­ier to be­come PM than to op­er­ate as the power be­hind a throne oc­cu­pied by any as­sertive alternativ­e. His mother, So­nia, de­clined the post af­ter the party won in 2004, and is seen as the most pow­er­ful per­son in the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“I have learnt from se­nior lead­ers. Mak­ing use of those, I will try to live up to the new chal­lenge,” the of­ten ret­i­cent Gandhi scion said in his brief ac­cep­tance speech at the CWC.

The el­e­va­tion marks the coming of age of a man of­ten seen as a re­luc­tant politi­cian who pre­ferred to re­main in the back­ground work­ing on the youth and stu­dent wings of the party and cam­paign­ing for trib­als, farm­ers and the ru­ral poor.

PTI

PM Man­mo­han Singh greets Rahul Gandhi on Satur­day.

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