Rahul should become Congress chief: Digvijay

Rahul should become Congress chief: Digvijay

With the organisational polls underway in Congress, party general secretary Digvijay Singh today said he was of "firm" opinion that Rahul Gandhi should become party President.

"I have been saying for a long time and even today I maintain my words. I am firm that Rahul Gandhi has handled the responsibility of Vice President and my request to Congress leadership and Sonia Gandhiji is that he should be given the responsibility of the AICC," he said while replying to whether he thinks it was time Rahul Gandhi should take up the leadership responsibility in the party and become Congress President.

His remarks have come at a time when organisational polls were underway that would culminate in the election of a new President for Congress in August-September while an AICC meeting is likely to take place as early as March this year.

Singh had two months back also said that Rahul should take over the leadership of Congress. Reminding that Congress had always encouraged a young leadership, he had then also pointed out that while Jawaharlal Nehru became AICC president at the age of 38 years. Maulana Azad had done so at an age of 35 years.
Rahul Gandhi is 44. Sonia Gandhi (68) is the longest serving party chief being at the helm since March 1998.

Rahul Gandhi had last month held a meeting with party general secretaries asking them to get feedback from the grassroot on revival plan of Congress.

Soon after Congress President Sonia Gandhi had written to them as well PCC chiefs to complete the exercise submit a report to her by February end. While Sonia Gandhi is the party chief, Rahul's activities in the parent party have grown manifold since be came the Vice President of Congress in January 2013.

These suggestions will be compiled in a book and will be taken up for discussion and approval at a meeting of the AICC, which is likely to be held in March this year.

The Congress' defeat trail has not stopped after the Lok Sabha polls, which saw its tally reaching to an abysmal 44 from 206 in 2009. Barring the assembly results in some states a few months ago, there has been no silver lining for the party in the past six months.

Meanwhile, it has extended the deadline for its ongoing membership drive for two months more from December 31 last year to February 28 this year, which means a delay of two months in conclusion of its organisational poll up to September-October.

The Organisational elections will culminate into the election of the new party President and a revamp of the entire All India Congress Committee(AICC) machinery.
When asked whether some non-Gandhi leader could become the President of Congress this time, a senior AICC functionary said, "Rahul Gandhi is already number 2 after Congress President. He will be the party President if Sonia ji chooses to step down. There is in confusion in the party on that."

A few months back, former Finance Minister P Chidambaram had said in a television interview that while Sonia Gandhi was "numero uno" in the organisation and that the decision in Jaipur in January 2013 to make Rahul Gandhi vice-president was "perhaps the correct decision".

Asked can a non-Gandhi become the Congress president, he had said, "I think so. Someday yes", but was quick to add, "I do not know" when asked about the timeline for such an eventuality.

After the Lok Sabha poll debacle, Rahul himself had held interactions with young and senior party leaders from various states in groups to take their feedback on how to strengthen the party at the grassroots and make a turn around.

Issues like how to widen the party's reach, what should Congress organisation look like and whether any changes are required, and how to push the core ideology of Congress among people and convey to the cadres with clarity were discussed in these meetings.

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