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Always welcomed Rahul's entry into govt: PM

Last updated on: August 11, 2012 17:59 IST

Amid demands in the Congress for a "larger role" for Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the young leader's entry into the Cabinet will be a welcome development.

"I have always said I would welcome Rahul's entry into government," Singh told reporters in New Delhi.

The prime minister's remarks came at a time when indications are emerging that Rahul could play a role bigger than what he was doing so far as the in-charge general secretary of the National Students' Union Of India and Youth Congress affairs sooner than later.

A section in the Congress feels that Rahul could discharge a larger responsibility in the party if he becomes general secretary in-charge of the organisation and at the same time also becomes a Cabinet minister to start with before he is projected as the party's prime ministerial candidate in the next general elections.

Last month, Rahul himself had said he would play a more proactive role in the Congress and the government, the timing of which would be decided by his two bosses -- Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and the Prime Minister.

There are instances of leaders discharging responsibility in the Congress organisation as well as in the government simultaneously.

Two of the All India Congress Committee general secretaries - Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mukul Wasnik - are Cabinet ministers.

There have also been talks of the possibility of Rahul becoming a vice president or the working president in the party, a contention downplayed by Congress managers who pointed out that such an eventuality happens only when the party chief is not active, which is not the reality in case of Sonia Gandhi.

Sources in the party have been maintaining that a large scale reshuffle in the government may be a reality after the monsoon session in September.

Asked about possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle next month, the PM said, "You will come to know when it happens."

Singh made the remark at the Rashtrapati Bhavan where he had gone to attend the swearing in ceremony of Hamid Ansari as vice president.

Congress lawmakers and leaders have long been demanding a Cabinet post for the Gandhi scion, although Rahul himself has shied away from all the hype surrounding it.

In June, amidst expectations of a Cabinet reshuffle post Pranab Mukherjee's resignation as finance minister to contest the Presidential poll, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had strongly pitched for Rahul's entry into the government, saying it was "necessary" to help in solving the problems faced by the country.

Krishna had noted that the prime minister had already asked Rahul to join the government and that his "invitation" still stood.

"We have always wanted Rahul Gandhi's involvement in the government. The PM's invitation is there to join the government but he himself seems to be not inclined at the moment," he had said during an interaction with journalists.

Krishna had also said he is one of those who feel that it is necessary for Rahul to come into the government and help in solving the problems being faced by the country.

A fortnight ago, 10 Congress MPs had written to Sonia suggesting Rahul's appointment as the Leader of the Lok Sabha, saying it was the "need of the hour" to create a "sense of confidence" among the countrymen.

In their joint letter, the Lok Sabha MPs have said as Leader of the House, Rahul would be able to speak "dynamically" on issues concerning the masses and inspire fellow Parliamentarians to follow his example, willingly and cheerfully.

However, Sushil Kumar Shinde was later made the Leader of the House after a minor Cabinet reshuffle that saw him elevated from power minister to home minister.

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