Congress declares Rahul as party face for LS polls

Congress declares Rahul as party face for LS polls

Congress President Rahul Gandhi addresses the extended Congress Working Committee meeting in New Delhi on Sunday. PTI

Rahul Gandhi will be the face of the Congress campaign for the Lok Sabha elections next year, the Congress announced on Sunday. The party also authorised him to take a decision on a broader alliance to unseat Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The decision was taken at the five-hour meeting of the Extended Congress Working Committee that was chaired by Rahul Gandhi and attended by more than 200 party leaders.

“We are committed to making alliances work and we are all with him (Rahul Gandhi) in this endeavour,” UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi said in her brief remarks at the CWC that was reconstituted by Rahul Gandhi last week, seven months after taking over as party president.

Briefing reporters about the meeting, AICC general secretary Ashok Gehlot said Rahul Gandhi has been authorised to form the election campaign committee and take decisions on pre-poll and post-poll alliance.

“The Congress will fight the election by putting forward our leader Rahul Gandhi,” Randeep Singh Surjewala, in-charge of the AICC’s communication department, said, addressing a press conference along with Gehlot.

Rahul’s projection as Congress face for Lok Sabha elections comes at a time when Trinamool Congress supremo and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has made her national ambitions known and BSP chief Mayawati is exploring alliances in Karnataka and Haryana with an eye on the prime minister’s chair.

Rahul said he would soon set up a group to look into the alliances without ignoring the interests of the Congress party.

“In the short term, we can come together with other parties and win the coming elections. After that, the damage done by BJP and RSS to India’s institutions will have to be undone. Only the Congress can do it,” he said.

At the CWC meeting, senior leader P Chidambaram made a presentation on alliances and how the Congress could win 150 seats in 12 states where it has strong organisational strength. He said tactical alliances were required in other states to oust Modi from power.

Surjewala did not rule out Rahul being the prime ministerial face of Congress if it emerged as the biggest party.

“We expect to better our 2004 performance. Naturally, the people of India will decide. Once Congress becomes the single-largest party touching the magic figure of 200 or more, the Congress will be leading whoever else wants to come and walk hand in hand. Naturally, the Congress President will be the only face,” Surjewala said in response to a question on Rahul being made the prime ministerial candidate in the Lok Sabha elections.

Rahul Gandhi had announced a 51-member Congress Working Committee including former Karnataka chief minister Siddaramaiah. Sunday's meeting was also attended by present and past chief ministers, PCC presidents, AICC secretaries, joint secretaries and senior leaders who were members of the previous CWC.

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