Rahul to be #2

Rahul Gandhi will be number two in the Congress after Sonia Gandhi, the party said yesterday after he declared that he was ready for a “more proactive role in the party and the government” and stoked speculation about the nature of his future responsibilites.

My momma strongest: On Wednesday, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said it was up to her son Rahul to decide on taking up a bigger role. File pic

Rahul said the decision about his taking a proactive role had been taken and the timing was left to the leadership. However, BJP dismissed Rahul’s remarks, saying the Nehru-Gandhi family scion was already calling the shots in the Congress “without responsibility” and all that would happen is change in his nomenclature.

Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh had said earlier this month that Rahul could play a bigger role by September. Rahul told a TV channel after voting for the presidential election in parliament that he would play a more “proactive” role.

Decision taken
“I will play a more proactive role in the party and the government. The decision has been taken, the timing is up to the leadership,” he said. The remark evoked almost immediate confirmation about his future role from party media department chairman Janardan Dwivedi who said the young leader was set to play number two position in the party. “In future, his role would be after Congress president. That is clear,” Dwivedi said. It also set off speculation that Rahul Gandhi (42), could be projected as the party’s prime ministerial candidate in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Dwivedi, however, later issued a press statement toning down his remarks made to TV channels. “We will be very happy if Shri Rahul Gandhi takes on some more responsibility and it will be a very welcome step. What responsibility and when is up to the party leadership and Rahulji to decide,” Dwivedi said.

This is the first time that Rahul Gandhi has spoken about the possibility of joining the government or taking up a bigger role in the Congress as the party prepares for a string of state elections and the Lok Sabha elections.

Interestingly, the big announcement came on the day former finance minister Pranab Mukherjee, and till a few days ago the government and party’s chief strategist, was contesting the presidential election and well on his way to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

On Wednesday, party chief Sonia Gandhi said it was up to her son to decide on taking up a bigger role. Rahul’s remarks triggered a wave of statements from party leaders. “We are very happy that he will be taking much more encompassing role,” said Sachin Pilot, minister of state for communicationssaid.

I said it first...
“I have been saying this for the past two years... Rahul should play a larger role all over the country,” Digvijaya Singh said. He added a large section of country’s population was young and “people were looking for new leadership.”

Rahul’s remarks intensified speculation about the exact nature of his future assignments and tasks. There is talk that he could be made member of the core committee. Mukherjee is no longer a member of the panel and Rahul could be his replacement. 

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