Rahul Gandhi is Cong vice-president
The Congress on Saturday appointed Rahul Gandhi party vice-president endorsing a demand from a cross-section of the 127-year-old organisation as it gears up for the 2014 general election.
Gandhi is now the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) .
Many delegates at the three-day “Chintan Shivir” here wanted Gandhi to be entrusted with a central role. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) also accepted a proposal to appoint him second in command.
At the 90-minute CWC meeting on Saturday, Gandhi’s name was proposed by Defence Minister A K Antony and supported by all others.
Briefing journalists after the meet, Congress spokesperson Janardhana Dwivedi said: “Forwarding the proposal, Antony said Congressmen have been demanding that Rahul Gandhi should be given a bigger role.
The CWC has accepted the proposal and after their endorsement, Sonia Gandhi gave her approval. And Rahul Gandhi accepted the responsibility. With his appointment, Rahul Gandhi has been elevated to the number two position in the Congress. And I am sure that he will strengthen the party.”
Gandhi’s elevation implies that the party will now be steered by him, while party president Sonia Gandhi will play the role of a mentor. He is now deemed the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the Lok Sabha elections.
Gandhi will have his plates full, working on the policies being formulated at the “Chintan Shivir” and programmes to be launched by the Congress, besides ensuring coordination between the party and the government.
The policies, which were approved by the CWC, will be endorsed at the AICC session on Sunday. Besides, Gandhi will be required to lead the party in the poll-bound states like Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, and north-eastern states.
A two-time Lok Sabha member from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi will be the third and youngest vice-president of the party, after Arjun Singh and Jitendra Prasada.
Party workers celebrated the announcement by bursting crackers in front of party headquarters in Delhi, as well as the Birla auditorium here, the venue of the brainstorming session.
Besides the decision on Gandhi, the 350 delegates discussed five other pressing issues in different groups: Emerging political challenges, emerging socio-economic challenges, empowerment of women, India and the world and organisational strength.
Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, attended all the discussions.
Rahul Gandhi is learnt to have invited suggestions from members of the sub-group on political challenges on whether selection to posts like state unit chiefs should be guided by any criteria.
Apparently a reflection of the transition in the party, over 110 delegates in the conclave were drawn from the Youth Congress and the party’s students’ wing, both hectored by Gandhi. Moreover, the Congress president Gandhi on Friday underscored the need to “connect with the youth who are better educated, demanding, aspirational and impatient.”
The announcement regarding Gandhi’s elevation in the party ranks came on a day when several senior leaders like Digvijay Singh and Mani Shankar Aiyar, besides chief ministers of Congress-ruled states and Youth Congress and students’ leaders, joined the chorus demanding a central role for the Gandhi scion.