Hardeep Singh Bedi
JAIPUR: At last, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi was on Saturday made Vice President of the party. With this, it has become confirmed that Gandhi scion, who is being considered as Congress’ PM in Waiting, will be the Congress’ Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014 general elections.
Rahul Gandhi was made the party Vice President by the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision making body, amid huge demand that he be given a bigger role.
Breaking the suspense, Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters here in the evening that the Congress Working Committee unanimously passed the resolution to make Rahul Party Vice President.
“With his appointment as Vice President of the Congress party today, Rahul Gandhi has been elevated to number two position in the party,” Dwivedi said.
“This decision will greatly strengthen the party and the hands of the Congress President,” he said.
Senior Congress leader AK Antony moved the resolution to make Rahul Gandhi Congress Vice President and it was seconded by Dwivedi. Sonia Gandhi nodded in assent after all the CWC members expressed their consent.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was the first to offer Rahul Gandhi a bouquet. Thereafter, a host of leaders lined up to offer him bouquets or to garland him.
“The party has reposed its confidence in its most effective and accepted young leader, reflecting the strong feelings of the millions of Congress workers,” Dwivedi said.
“Any election or campaign-related decision will be taken at a later stage,” he added.
Rahul Gandhi’s role in the coming elections will be decided by the party later, he added.
Before the announcement was made, Bidla Auditorium, the Chintan Shivir venue, was encircled by the enthusiastic Congress workers. The sky was filled with the firecrackers and area echoed with the slogans in favour of Rahul Gandhi. Reports from New Delhi said that the scene at Congress Headquarters at 24 Akbar Road was also more or less same.
With this, Rahul has become the third Congress leader to become Congress Vice President. Prior to Rahul’s appointment, late Arjun Singh was made Congress Vice President in 1985 by then Party President Rajiv Gandhi. The second Congress Vice President was Jitendra Prasad, who was entrusted responsibility in 1997.
It is notable that ahead of the Jaipur Chintan Shivir speculations were being made regarding what role would be entrusted to Rahul. Issue of Rahul’s role had been dominating the national media camping here and all other issues became irrelevant.
Whenever any leader came out of the meeting venue, he/she was asked the same question: Is Congress officially going to announce Rahul’s role ?
It is notable that not only the young leaders but older brigade was also demanding bigger role for Rahul. On Saturday, Senior Congress leader Rajiv Shukla was seen batting vehemently for a bigger role for Rahul since morning.
Senior leaders had been demanding major role for Rahul, but this time around over 130 Youth Congress and NSUI leaders here demanded a bigger role for the party’s de facto number two.
Rahul shared the stage on Friday with his mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior Congress leaders.
He will address the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session on 20th January.
It has now become evident that the Congress will project Rahul Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate in the 2014.
Terming Rahul Gandhi’s new post as a “game changer” for the Congress, Minister of State for Home R.P.N. Singh said he has “brought about new thinking in the party” and his appointment reflects the demographics of a young India.
Asked whether Rahul Gandhi would be pitted against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, Singh said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had not as yet decided on its prime ministerial candidate. Modi is being touted as the BJP’s frontrunner for the top post.
However, he added that Rahul Gandhi would “definitely be the face of the Congress” in 2014 and the party would choose its Prime Minister after coming to power.
“When he is the face of the Congress party, when we come back to power in UPA-III we will support him (as PM).”
In fact, Rahul has not been a match winner for the Congress. He failed to charm voters in UP and other states. But, Congress leaders are of the view that Rahul will click in the general elections as the issues that decide state elections are different from national issue.
With Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi also set to become Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Prime Ministerial candidate in 2014, it will be an interesting battle to watch.