Congress leaders want Rahul Gandhi to assume bigger role ahead of 2014 polls

Jaipur, Jan.20 (ANI): Congress leaders who are attending the party's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur, Rajasthan, want Rahul Gandhi to assume greater responsibility in the run-up to the 2014 general elections.

"The leaders of India's ruling Congress party have repeatedly called for giving more responsibility to Rahul Gandhi.We hope that in the coming 2014 general elections, he plays an important role in the elections," said Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said late on Saturday.

Party insiders and confidants said Gandhi is looking beyond the government's present troubles, and his strategy of building support from the ground guarantees a long-term future for Congress and, by extension, for himself.

The brainstorming session that will continue on Sunday is witnessing for the first time the participation of almost a 100 members of the Youth Congress.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajeev Shukla said: "There should be a decision about Rahul Gandhi playing a bigger role in the party. However the final decision remains with Congress Party president, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi himself about the latter's responsibilities and role in the party."

Congress Party leader Raj Babbar said: "I am hopeful that everyone's hope and wish for a young leader to lead the country (will be fulfilled). I think the country will be governed well by Rahul Gandhi as he has excellent leadership qualities."

The Nehru-Gandhi family has ruled the country for most of its 65 years since independence, and many Indians seem to take it for granted that Rahul, the son, grandson and great-grandson of former prime ministers, will also one day be their leader.

Rahul has refused government jobs, preferring to rebuild the Congress youth wing, seen as crucial for the long-term survival of a party that relies on a rural vote bank, but which is run by members now at retirement age.

Congress Party lawmaker, Girija Vyas said Gandhi is sensitive to the problems of the poor and the women.

"In every situation, especially inclusive growth and issues regarding women and plight of the common man, Rahul Gandhi's opinions are very forthcoming," said Vyas.

The Congress says Rahul just needs time to decide on the way forward.

Meanwhile, the BJP has expressed both shock and surprise over Gandhi being made the vice-president of the Congress Party.

BJP spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: "Its slightly shocking and amusing in fact that there is announcement that Rahulji has been made the vice president of the Congress Party, and possibly, earlier, I believe, he was the general secretary of the Congress Party. Now, he has become the vice president. Maybe again, there is an announcement that he is the senior vice president of the Congress Party, and then, there is an announcement that he is the acting president of the Congress Party, and then, there is an announcement that he is the president of the Congress Party. But the fact remains that there is no question of him being one or two, everything is there in that family, which is the Nehru-Gandhi family. Today, they are Soniaji or Rahulji."

He further said: "The Bharatiya Janata Party does not have to make any comment on it. We are absolutely not concerned what designation is given to Mr. Rahul Gandhi in his party or wherever, it is the decision of the party as they have every right to do that. But the fact remains the party which is in government today is the party of which he now has become the vice president - what does he have to say about how women are being treated on the streets of Delhi? What he has to say about the price rise? What does he has to say about the black money? What does he have to say how the soldiers are being lynched on the borders? What does he have to say about the gas cylinders, the price rise, the petrol and diesel price rise? So, there are many issues which the country wants an answer from him."

Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) spokesman Nawab Malik said: "The Congress decides its own internal matter. We in the capacity of an ally know that the government is being led by Manmohan Singh and there is no announcement of elections so far. When this announcement comes, then as ally of UPA, we will mediate as to how we want to go about the elections. It is Congress party's internal matter to decide what post should be given to Rahul Gandhi. They are completely independent to make that decision." (ANI)

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