Clamour grows for larger role in Congress for Rahul (Lead)
New Delhi, July 16 (IANS) Voices are rising within the Congress for a larger role to Rahul Gandhi with senior leader Digvijay Singh Monday urging him to move to the party’s mainstream and another senior functionary indicating that Gandhi could be projected as the prime minister in the next Lok Sabha polls.
Digvijay Singh said time has come for Rahul Gandhi, his fellow general secretary, to go beyond his present engagements in the party’s frontal organisations for youth and students and move to the mainstream.
Digvijay Singh, who has worked closely with him in Uttar Pradesh, said that the party was hoping for a greater role for Rahul Gandhi beyond his present assignments as Youth Congress and National Students Union of India in-charge.
His remarks assume significance as they came on a day he met Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Party leaders Janardan Dwivedi and Ahmed Patel also met her.
“Yes, (that is) what are we hoping for. Time has come for a larger role… He has been confining himself to student wing and Youth Congress. (He should) come to the mainstream now,” Digvijay Singh told reporters here.
Asked about his recent remarks that the new role for Rahul Gandhi could come by September, he said that presidential and vice presidential elections would be over by then.
He, however, added that the decision about contours of the larger role would be taken by Rahul Gandhi himself and Sonia Gandhi.
Digvijay Singh asserted that Sonia Gandhi will lead the party in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
Party sources said that Rahul Gandhi was unlikely to be made working president as Sonia Gandhi was functioning as a full-time president.
They said that he was also not likely to join the government, but could be made a member of the core committee where all important decisions are taken and could also be given charge of some states.
The core group of the party includes Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Home Minister P. Chidambaram, Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Patel. Pranab Mukherjee was a member till he was chosen to be the presidential poll candidate.
Digvijay Singh disgreed with criticism that Rahul Gandhi’s campaign had failed to change the party’s fortunes in the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
He said there was no such thing as “Rahul factor”, adding that it was the duty of state Congress leadership to convert support mobilised by Rahul Gandhi into votes.
He stressed there is general feeling among party workers and middle rung leaders that Rahul Gandhi should play a bigger role.
Congress spokesman Manish Tewari also said that there was growing demand for a bigger role for Rahul Gandhi.
“Since 2004, the party or the activists and leaders have been articulating that Rahul Gandhi should assume a larger role either in the party or government. But essentially that is a decision he has to take or Congress president has to take,” he said.
A section of party is also pitching for projecting prime ministerial candidate in 2014 and Rahul Gandhi is seen as the prime contender.
“I feel that a prime ministerial candidate should be projected in the present conditions. We had projected a prime ministerial candidate in 2009,” said a party leader.
The leader agreed that Rahul Gandhi was poised for a bigger role.
Law Minister Salman Khurshid told a newspaper last week that the party had seen just “cameos” of Rahul Gandhi’s thoughts and ideas, and that the party was waiting for him to weave these into a grand announcement. Khurshid later said his remarks were misinterpreted.