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India Cong Readying To Project Rahul

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Cong readying to project Rahul
Thursday, 06 October 2011 00:32 Annapurna Jha | New Delhi

Reflects PM Manmohan’s dwindling status in hierarchy

A day after Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee hailed Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi as the “new leader”, the Congress on Wednesday indicated that the party would project him as the prime ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

“Rahul Gandhi is the future of the Congress party and future of the country,” party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said when asked whether Pranab’s statement could be interpreted as Rahul going to be the next Prime Minister.

Asserting that the 42-year Congress general secretary was among the biggest leaders of the party at present, he said that the Congress would be strengthened under the leadership of Rahul.

Alvi emphasised that Pranab’s statement that “Rahul is the new leader of the Congress” was nothing new as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the party had already made similar statements.

“As far as the Congress is concerned, it has always had new leaders. Rahul Gandhi is going to be a new leader,” Pranab had said on Tuesday in Miriti in West Bengal when asked whether like the BJP, the Congress was also going to showcase new faces as future leaders.

Though in the past too many leaders like Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh had openly advocated that leadership be handed over to Rahul and he should choose and train his own team for the future, political analysts feel that Pranab’s statement is very significant. Pranab is among the most powerful leaders of the Congress and holds second position in the UPA Government after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“His statement shows the direction in which the party is likely to go in future,” a senior Congress leader pointed out.

The pro-Rahul chorus has gained momentum at a time when the Congress is not happy with Singh’s handling of various issues, including the recent row between his two senior Ministers —Pranab and Home Minister P Chidambaram — on the Finance Ministry note, which had blamed former Finance Minister Chidambaram for failing to stop 2G scam by not insisting on auction of spectrum.

Despite Pranab dashing to New York to explain to the PM that the controversial note was prepared at the initiative of the Cabinet Secretariat and had inputs from various Ministries, including the PMO, the matter was sorted only after intervention of Sonia Gandhi. Despite recuperating from illness, Sonia met both the Ministers twice and directed them to stop washing dirty linen in public to save the party further embarrassment.

This episode has clearly reflected that Manmohan’s position has weakened as his own Ministers are no longer listening to him. Also since the controversial note was leaked from the PMO in response to an RTI query, a theory is also doing the rounds in political circles that the entire drama was orchestrated by the PMO to embarrass and weaken the two senior Ministers.

Moreover, a section of the Congress is already complaining about the PM being unable to tackle many issues properly — be it Anna Hazare agitation, sending four Ministers to airport to receive Baba Ramdev and then mid-night swoop on his supporters and various scams which have tainted the UPA Government’s image. A section of the party also feels that the Government is not taking the party into confidence on many of these issues making its job of fire-fighting difficult.

Meanwhile, in the past few months, Rahul has got more prominence within the party, especially after Sonia went abroad for surgery of her undisclosed illness. Sonia had appointed Rahul and three of her other trusted lieutenants —Defence Minister AK Antony, Political Secretary to the Congress president Ahmad Patel and Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi — to look after the party affairs in her absence.

In Sonia’s absence Rahul not only looked after the party affairs but even played a crucial role in the deliberations held at the top level during the political crisis faced by the UPA Government from Anna Hazare agitation during the Monsoon session of Parliament.

Young MPs close to Rahul had reportedly criticised the handling of the entire issue at the Congress Legislature Party meeting called by Pranab to brief about the Lokpal Bill controversy following which they were given greater role and consulted by senior party leaders at every stage before an agreement was reached.

Rahul, who had in the past confined himself to re-organising Youth Congress and inspiring the younger people to join the party through holding regular interactions with youngsters in Colleges, has recently been seen attending important meetings including the Congress Core Group which is the highest decision making body of the party.

He has also been directing party leaders about policy decisions to be taken and is also

playing an important role in the selection of candidates for the UP assembly elections scheduled next year. Taking centre stage at the last Congress General Secretaries meeting Rahul asked the party to focus on the five-point Action Plan to tackle corruption given by Sonia at the Burari session and also emphasized the need for effective implementation of the flagship programmes of UPA government to tackle the negative propaganda of the opposition.

However, the Congress faces the dilemma in openly anointing Rahul when Manmohan Singh is already at the helm of affairs as the PM. This was reflected in Alvi’s comment that Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister at present but three years are remaining for the next general elections and any thing can happen during this long period.

source: http://www.dailypioneer.com/pioneer-news/todays-newspaper/11409-cong-readying-to-project-rahul.html


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