Rahul moves centre stage, CWC to decide 'bigger role'

Last Updated: Sat, Jan 19, 2013 11:00 hrs

Jaipur, Jan 19 (IANS) The stage is possibly set for a "bigger role" in the government and party for Rahul Gandhi with the all-powerful Congress Working Committee (CWC) likely to discuss the popular wish expressed at the three-day special session here.

"The CWC is likely to take a call on the issue," Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla told IANS.

"But it is for him (Rahul) to take the final decision," he said.

The CWC will meet at 6.30 p.m.

The wish from the party's rank and file got amplified through the 130 odd Youth Congress and NSUI leaders at the conclave.

A party general secretary hinted that if the CWC gave its nod to Rahul's elevation, an announcement to the effect could be made at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session Jan 20, where the Nehru-Gandhi family scion could make a policy address.

Congress sources said many chief ministers including Prithviraj Chavan of Maharashtra, Vijay Bahuguna of Uttarakhand, Ashok Gehlot of Rajasthan and Bhupinder Singh Hooda of Haryana told the party leadership that "Rahul should get a bigger role now".

"His (Rahul's) upgrade should have been made earlier. The party needs to connect with the youth who are 70 percent of the population. Perhaps the older generation is not able to do it well," Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan told IANS.

Rahul, who heads the party's 2014 poll coordination panel, shared the stage Friday with his mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior Congress leaders.

"He (Rahul) represents the demographic dividend. We want him to lead in 2014 but he has to take the final call," Minister of State (independent charge) for Power Jyotiraditya Scindia said.

The younger leaders too share the same view.

Congress MP from Lakshadweep, Hamdulla Saeed said: "We want to see him (Rahul) lead in all spheres."

Asked whether he would like Rahul Gandhi to be seen as the party's prime ministerial candidate, Saeed said that was a matter the elected MPs and party chief Sonia Gandhi would decide.

Pawan Godara, who heads the Youth Congress in Rajasthan, and is a delegate at the party's chintan shivir or introspection camp, said young leaders wanted Rahul to lead the party in the next general elections.

"Rahul Gandhi has given people like me with no political background an opportunity. He should play a bigger role now, and the seniors should guide us," Godara said.

It is also because of the 42-year-old Gandhi that the conclave at Jaipur has seen such a large contingent from the Youth Congress and the party's student wing, National Students' Union of India.

Rahul, who has said he is ready for a bigger role, played a key role in deciding who gets a cabinet berth in Oct 2012 government reshuffle.

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