Rahul Gandhi was today formally elevated to the number two position in the
Congress party after being appointed its Vice President, but his role in the
2014 Lok Sabha polls would be decided later.
The anointment of the 42-year-old leader nine years after he entered politics
was formalised at the meeting of the party's highest policy making body, the
Congress Working Committee (CWC), which unanimously adopted a resolution for
this moved by Defence Minister A K Antony.
The decision ends prolonged speculation about a bigger role for Rahul, so far
one of the 11 general secretaries of the Congress. The speculation focussed on
the possibility of his being made Working President or Secretary General of the
'Will work with party to transform the country'
Accepting the post of Vice President in the Congress party, Rahul expressed his gratitude and thanked the party leaders at the CWC meeting.
Stating that he had "great experience", Rahul also told the meeting of the Congress Working Committee(CWC) he was confident that the party can "transform" the country.
"He expressed his gratitude towards all the CWC members," Congress leader Vilas Muttemwar, who was present at the meeting, quoted Rahul as having said at the meeting after his elevation.
"I have great experience...In the last eight years that I have worked with the party I have seen it is a great organisation and together we will transform the country. It is a great party," said the 42-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, who was the AICC General Secretary, before his elevation.
Rahul becomes the third Vice President of the Congress after Arjun Singh under Rajiv Gandhi and Jitendra Prasada under Sitaram Kesri.
Will Rahul Lead Congress in 2014 Polls?
It was clear that the party has stopped short of naming Rahul either as its face
in the 2014 polls or as its Prime Ministerial candidate, obviously, giving
itself time to see how the political scenario pans out in the run up to the
Janardhan Dwivedi, chief spokesperson of the party, who made the much-awaited
announcement, told reporters as to what will be Rahul's role in the next
election or whether he will lead the election campaign will be decided later.
"Any election or campaign related decisions will be taken at a later stage,"
Dwivedi said after the CWC meeting held on the sidelines of the two-day Chintan
Shivir (brainstorming conclave).
He said with his appointment as Vice President of Congress today, Rahul Gandhi
has been elevated to the "number two" position in the party.
"This decision will greatly strengthen the party and the hands of the Congress
President. The Congress is a pan-India party which is the only unifying force
that unites all sections.
"In Rahul Gandhi the party has its most effective and most accepted young leader
reflecting the feelings of millions of Congress workers," Dwivedi said.
Rahul becomes the third Vice President of the party in its recent history -- the
earlier ones being Arjun Singh under Rajiv Gandhi and Jitendra Prasada under
Sitaram Kesri. Kamlapati Tripathi was the Working President during the tenure of
The second term MP from Amethi is expected to make his address at the AICC
session tomorrow which will begin with Sonia Gandhi's speech.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and a number of senior ministers and leaders are
expected to speak before the AICC adopts its 'Jaipur Declaration' covering
political, economic and other issues.
Will 2014 be Rahul V/s Modi?
Dwivedi said at the CWC meeting, Antony said he wanted to propose Rahul's
name as Vice President since for a long time Congress workers have been making
the demand and the media was also speculating that he should be given an
"So that's why I propose that Shri Rahul Gandhi be made Vice President. The
whole CWC supported this by thumping of desks. After their support, the Congress
President gave her consent and thereafter Rahul Gandhi accepted the post," he
said quoting Antony.
Rahul's appointment comes 16 months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and at a time
when BJP appears to be zeroing in on Narendra Modi as its Prime Ministerial
He was made the Congress General Secretary by party chief Sonia Gandhi on Sept
24, 2007, over three years after he entered politics by becoming the party MP
from Amethi, a seat represented by Rajiv Gandhi.
He was given the charge of Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union
of India which he sought to democratise by holding regular elections.
The remarks by Dwivedi on a later-day decision about whether Rahul would be the
party's face in the campaign are significant as they come in the backdrop of
speculation that the elections could be a Rahul vs Modi tussle.
What Does Rahul Being Number Two Mean?
Dwivedi, who is also AICC media department chief, said, Congress offers a unique
blend of youth and experience
The refrain of the Congress chief as also several leaders at the Shivir was that
there was need to bring a young leadership to connect with the changing
demographic profile of the country when the majority was below the age of 45.
For the last two days, there has been a chorus of demands from ministers and
leaders that Rahul should be entrusted with a larger role.
The elevation of Gandhi could lead to major changes in the party. Indications to
this effect were given by party General Secretary Digvijay Singh who said that,
generally, when a new leader comes, he brings in his team.
He, however, hastened to add that even if Rahul accepts a predominant role in
the organisation, he will also be part of the team headed by the party chief
Singh has worked closely with Rahul being in charge General Secretary of the
party affairs in Uttar Pradesh.
He said that Congress has seen several young leaders as its chief like Maulana
Azad and Jawahar Lal Nehru.
He, however, dismissed suggestions that the party would go for a quota in ticket
distribution for those under 45 years to be in tune with India's changing
Singh said that there was no need for quota and the young would be automatically
given preference in ticket distribution in the changed scenario with women also
getting a better deal.
'Rahul competent to discharge the responsibilities of PM'
Hailing the elevation of Rahul in the party, Union Minister Sachin Pilot said
it was a "historical" decision.
He said that Rahul is "competent to discharge the responsibilities of Prime
Minister" but quickly added that it was early to make any presumption on it.
"This decision has given a positive message. It's good that he became vice
president of the party after working for youths for so many years. We will carry
forward the development agenda of the party," he said.
A close aide of Rahul, Union Minister C P Joshi said that Rahul Gandhi has
travelled widely in the country and knows the problems the nation is facing.
"The country will progress further in his leadership," he said.
Commerce Minister Anand Sharma, a 10 Janpath loyalist, said that this has been a
long-pending demand that it will strengthen the party.
"Young leadership has always been promoted by the party and this is an important
step towards the preparation of 2014 general election," Sharma said.
Another Rahul team member Jitin Prasad said that Congress has always focused on
youth leadership and this will strengthen the party.
As the ministers, especially the young turks, lauded Rahul, party workers
particularly from the two youth wings shouted slogans in support of the leader.
MPCC president Manikrao Thakre claimed that party workers will stand firmly
State Congress General Secretary Sanjay Dutt said Rahul epitomises the
"aspirations" of aam aadmi and the youth of the country.
"His (Rahul's) new responsibility will strengthen Sonia's resolve to make
Congress a more vibrant and people-oriented organisation to lead the nation to
greater heights of progress and development," Dutt said.
Celebrations erupted outside the venue even before the formal announcement of
Rahul's new role in the party with jubilant workers bursting crackers and
raising slogans hailing the young leader.
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