Rahul to play 'big role' in Cong, govt

Rahul to play 'big role' in Cong, govt

Top brass to take final call; members say it took a lot of effort to convince him

Rahul to play 'big role' in Cong, govt

Breaking his silence on popular demand within the Congress party for taking on a more assertive role, party General Secretary Rahul Gandhi on Thursday said he is ready for higher responsibility and may join the UPA government at the Centre.

“I will play a more proactive role in the party and the government,” Rahul said after casting his vote in the  Presidential election in Parliament and further affirmed, “the decision has been taken, the timing is up to my two bosses — the Congress president and the Prime Minister.”

The young face of Congress, Rahul stressed that both the options, of playing a larger role in the party and joining the government, were open.

Rahul’s confirmatory remarks came a day after Congress president Sonia Gandhi said it was up to her son to take a call on assuming a bigger role. And it evoked an almost immediate endorsement from AICC media in-charge Janardan Dwivedi.

Dwivedi said the young leader was set to play Number 2 in the party. “In future, his role would be only next to the Congress president, that is clear,” he said.

Sources in the Congress said Rahul’s elevation in the party will also see him being inducted into the
party’s core committee, which comprises of Prime Minister, Congress chief, Union ministers P Chidambaram, A K Antony and Sonia’s political secretary Ahmed Patel.

Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh, considered Rahul’s political mentor, expressed happiness at the young leader’s decision.

“I am happy to note that he has agreed to play a more proactive role in the party and government," Singh said, speaking to the media in Lucknow. Earlier too Singh had spoken of a larger role for Rahul from coming September.

Asked about Rahul’s projection as the prime ministerial candidate for 2014 election, Singh said: “Congress never projects anyone as its PM candidate,” adding the party will contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election under the leadership of Sonia. Asked to describe the “bigger role” cut  out for Rahul, Dwivedi remarked: “What responsibility, in the government or in the party and when: it is up to the party leadership and Rahulji to decide."

Cong elated

Rahul’s announcement triggered a wave of statements from party leaders. “We are very happy that he will be taking on a much more encompassing role,” said Minister of State for Communications Sachin Pilot.

Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily, who was among the first to throw the “Rahul for PM” hint as early as 2008, said the party and government needed its young, passionate and enthusiastic leader to play a bigger role.

According to sources in the Congress, Rahul’s ultimate decision to play a bigger role came after much persuasion. A senior AICC functionary said, “earlier he was not ready to entertain the idea of joining the government; it took a lot of effort to convince him; now he is open to the idea.”

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