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August 20, 2002 | 1222 IST
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Rahul Gandhi is back with a business plan

Aditi Phadnis in New Delhi

Rahul Gandhi has shifted base from London to New Delhi, triggering speculation that he is being groomed for a more active political role.

Rahul GandhiAfter Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, Rahul Gandhi was sent to the US to complete his studies. He got a degree in computer studies from Harvard and moved to UK to work for a computers firm.

However, about three months ago, he moved to Delhi for good and proposes to start a computers project here. He is reportedly still undecided whether his venture should be a call centre or a trouble-shooting firm of some kind.

He is said to be studying the market and assessing what would work in the Indian environment.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi had told friends she was anxious about Rahul staying away from home so long. Though Congress leaders believe Priyanka has more aptitude for leadership, she is too immersed in her family - with a second baby now - to take more than a passing interest in politics.

Sources close to 10 Janpath, however, say that Rahul is disinterested in a political career. They also deny any plans to "launch" Rahul Gandhi in politics. The immediate opportunity is the Gujarat election with several state polls later next year. However, Rahul Gandhi's name does not seem to be in currency for an MLA-ship.

Both Priyanka and Rahul have taken an active interest in the affairs of Amethi (the Parliamentary constituency represented by Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi) in the past, addressing campaign meetings and overseeing the party's publicity. However, both have stayed away from the hubbub of active power politics.

The Gandhi family has traditionally favoured 'soft' political launches. Indira Gandhi was first made her father's social secretary (1955), then a member of the Congress working committee and became president of the Congress nearly four years later.

She spoke at a public meeting in Chamba in place of her father for the first time in 1957 nearly two years after ground had been prepared for her launch. Sanjay Gandhi was appointed Youth Congress Chief after he began to interest himself in politics.

Rajiv Gandhi functioned as a general secretary of the party for several years until his mother's assassination forced him to take the reins of the Congress. Sonia Gandhi spent nearly seven years watching the Congress under PV Narasimha Rao and Sitaram Kesri until she took a hand.

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