Cong’s 2014 signal: Rahul is their No 2
FORMAL Anointed V-P, 42-yr-old promises to ‘transform’ party
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.
PM Manmohan Singh greets Rahul Gandhi on Saturday.