Congress not to project Rahul as its PM candidate

But, Gandhi scion to lead campaign

Congress not to project Rahul as its PM candidate

The Congress on Thursday refrained from naming Rahul Gandhi its prime ministerial candidate, disappointing the party rank and file who were keen on pitting him against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Narendra Modi. 

The leaders had to settle for the declaration that the Gandhi scion would lead the election campaign.

The 43-year-old leader would lead the Congress campaign for the April-May elections, party chief Sonia Gandhi told a meeting of the Extended Congress Working Committee (ECWC), which saw members clamouring for the projection of Rahul as the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

The decision effectively means that the Congress is keen to avoid a Rahul versus Modi face-off in the elections, particularly as the BJP leader has a head-start having been declared prime ministerial candidate in September.

The two-hour meeting of the ECWC saw Kerala strongman Ramesh Chennithala leading the leaders making a strong demand for Rahul’s projection as the prime ministerial candidate. He was supported by senior leaders B K Hariprasad, Gurudas Kamat, Ghulam Nabi Azad and Youth Congress chief Rajeev Satav.

The Congress president listened to their arguments but cited the party tradition: “There have been so many prime ministers. When has the Congress declared its prime ministerial candidate? A prime minister is chosen by the elected representatives,” a CWC member quoted Sonia Gandhi as saying.

However, heeding to the demands from a cross-section of leaders, it was proposed to add one line to the draft resolution to be put before Friday’s AICC meeting. “This meeting of the AICC decided that the 2014 election campaign will be led by Rahul Gandhi,” read a new 22nd paragraph of the draft AICC resolution approved by the ECWC.

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