Rahul May Be Anointed PM Candidate on Jan 17

UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi stands by as UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi addresses media in New Delhi on Sunday.--Photo IANS
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi stands by as  Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi addresses media in New Delhi after recent Assembly poll debacle.–Photo IANS


NEW DELHI, Dec 17 —  Congress has decided to convene a session of the AICC on January 17 to “motivate and galvanize” party workers for the 2014 polls, setting off speculation that the brainstorming session may see vice-president Rahul Gandhi being declared the party’s PM nominee, reported Times of India.

The session of the AICC — a body comprising delegates from across the country which has been frequently used to endorse the decisions of the high command and invest them with the veneer of consultation — has been conceived to lift the spirit of troops in the wake of the mauling in the recent assembly elections which has raised questions about its viability as a serious contender in the 2014 contest.

As the announcement about the upcoming meeting became public, party spokesperson Priya Dutt told reporters, “The entire Congress is definitely looking forward to the session and if announcement on PM is made, we will be very, very happy.”

She said, “You know in the entire Congress, there is only one leader and we would wish that Rahul Gandhi is projected.”

The remark from the AICC podium at the official briefing, even if termed as a personal wish in response to questions, heightened expectations. Dutt was emphatic about stating her wish that Rahul be projected as she subtly argued that the party policy of not declaring the PM or the CM candidate should be junked. “Congress has not projected anyone as PM or CM candidate in the past but today we feel that people are looking for a face,” she said.

The buzz raises the prospect of a “Narendra Modi vs Rahul Gandhi” clash, a faceoff that may intensify the political bloodletting given that the Gujarat strongman is going about targeting Rahul by calling him “shehzada”.

Sources, however, said the final call on the leadership issue was yet to be made, and the possibility of Rahul leading Congress’s charge even without being formally projected as the PM candidate.

Asked about the speculation triggered by party’s plans for the AICC session, a Congress functionary cautioned against seeking a linkage between whether party formally projects Rahul and the event. “We did not call an AICC session in 2009 to declare that Manmohan Singh was going to be our candidate,” he said.

In case the speculations are proven right, that would cap the swift elevation of Rahul who was made the official No.2 in the Congress hierarchy with the designation of “vice-president’ at the AICC session that followed the Jaipur ‘chintan shivir’ last January.

Rahul, who would often come off as reluctant, has post-Jaipur taken charge of the organization. His growing outreach to media and public advocacy of policies on behalf of the party, like over the Lokpal bill on Saturday, have been taken by many to mean that he is ready to step up to the plate.



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