Cong divided over Rahul anointment at AICC meet

Cong divided over Rahul anointment at AICC meet

Ahead of the crucial AICC meeting, the Congress was under tremendous pressure from within the party to declare vice-president Rahul Gandhi its prime ministerial candidate. 

A meeting of the extended Congress Working Committee has been scheduled for Thursday evening to finalise the party’s strategy for the Lok Sabha elections and a decision on Gandhi is also expected to be taken then.

Though several leaders were in favour of declaring Gandhi the prime ministerial candidate, some seniors counselled caution lest the blame for the Congress’ “probable rout in the general elections be put at his door”.

Some senior leaders considered close to Gandhi, like Digvijay Singh, were vocal in their opposition to the idea of a prime ministerial candidate and contended that parliamentary democracy was a contest between policies and ideologies, but not personalities.

On his part, Gandhi has already expressed his willingness to assume any responsibility that the party asks him to shoulder. An indication to that effect was available when he attended the meeting of the Congress core group, chaired by party chief Sonia Gandhi at the official residence of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“Not only the country, but also the entire world knows that after Sonia Gandhi, Rahul is the leader of the Congress,” said AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi. 

A Congress leader said there were other options like making Gandhi the in-charge of the party’s election campaign or appointing him the working president.

A section of the Congress was also of the view that Gandhi should take over as prime minister and shore up the party’s image by taking ownership of key decisions like increase in LPG subsidy and reduction in petrol and diesel prices. However, senior leaders rejected such a possibility.

Responding to a series of questions at the AICC briefing, spokesman Sandeep Dikshit said: “Rahul is among the top three leaders. He is the principal campaigner whose leadership will strengthen the party.”

AICC Secretary Sanjay Nirupam said if given a chance at the AICC meeting on Friday, he would demand that Rahul Gandhi be named the prime ministerial candidate. 

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