Rahul Gandhi may have expressed his willingness to undertake any responsibility given to him by his party but contrary to widespread speculation he is unlikely to be announced the Congress’ prime ministerial candidate.
The Gandhi scion has appeared reluctant in the past to take up any responsibility in the government but ahead of the April-May Lok Sabha elections he had said yesterday that he was a sepoy of the party and was willing to take up any job given to him, fuelling further speculation that he would take on Narendra Modi for the PM stakes.
“I am a sepoy of Congress.I will obey whatever order is given to me. I will do whatever Congress wants me to do… Decisions are taken in our party by senior leaders,” he told a Hindi daily.
However, the thinking in the Congress is that it may be “risky” to announce him as the PM candidate with the party facing an uphill task in the polls and if he is given that responsibility the blame would go to him in the event Congress does badly at the hustings.
Ahead of the AICC session on Friday, the party leadership was weighing other options such as making Rahul Gandhi in charge of the election campaign and even appointing him as Working President of the party. However, talk of Rahul Gandhi being made the PM candidate is still making the rounds.
Those who do not favour Rahul Gandhi being made the candidate for the PM’s post point out that Congress does not have the tradition of naming candidate for the PM’s post ahead of the polls.
Exception was made in 2009 when party President Sonia Gandhi had at a press conference released a party document that showed her and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the cover and blocked her picture to say Singh would be the candidate.
The party leadership may rely on that tradition and entrust the responsibility of campaign or Working President, although there is little doubt that there will be clamour at the AICC meeting to make him a candidate.
AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh had last week said there was no need for the party to declare a prime ministerial candidate before the elections.
Meanwhile, Rahul attended the meeting of the Congress Core Group ahead of tomorrow’s Working Committee meeting. It lasted two hours.
“Rahul is among the top three leaders. He is the principal campaigner whose leadership will strengthen the party”, party spokesman Sandip Dikshit told reporters in reply to a volley of questions on the issue of PM candidate of the party.
At the same time, he said that one cannot predict what AICC will decide. “AICC is a large body. Sometimes people’s opinion becomes party’s policy. You cannot predict what AICC will do”.
“Opinions of senior leaders will help party come to conclusions-appropriate and correct”, he said when asked about party leader Digvijay Singh’s advocating caution on the issue.
“High command has to decide when and who?”, Dikshit said when asked whether the AICC meeting was an opportune moment to reveal its PM candidate.
“They (BJP and AAP) are fighting for the number two position”, Dikshit remarked when asked whether Congress is afraid of naming Rahul as PM candidate in view of the AAP claim that the fight for power was on between the BJP and AAP and Congress is nowhere in the picture.
At the AICC briefing, Union Minister V Narayansamy recalled that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said that Rahul had all the qualities to become the PM candidate.
The CWC meeting is likely finalise the resolution that will come up before the AICC meet being held at a time when the Lok Sabha polls are just four months away.