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Rediff.com  » News » Pranab's meeting with Rahul sparks speculation

Pranab's meeting with Rahul sparks speculation

June 25, 2012 22:44 IST

Even as the Congress Working Committee met on Monday morning to salute its seniormost member Pranab Mukherjee (who became a CWC member in 1978) and put on record its appreciation of his services both in the party and the government, the union finance minister spent his day tying up loose ends and saying his goodbyes.

While Mukherjee met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, who is expected to take over the charge of the finance ministry after Mukherjee's resignation on Tuesday, he had a one-and-a-half hour long meeting with Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi.

The meeting is considered significant, since a great number of decisions are expected and charges are to be diverted after Mukherjee's exit, and Rahul is expected to have a more hands-on approach in the Congress and the government.

The discussions between Mukherjee and Rahul revolved around the issues of governance, organisation and expected changes in the government. A new leader of the Lok Sabha has to be announced, and even though party members are clamouring to give that post to Rahul, it is unlikely, since that post goes to a senior cabinet minister.

There is also the issue of Rahul joining the government. Sources say that while this would be right time for him to get some experience, Rahul still does not appear to be inclined.

While the prime minister is expected to immediately take over charge of the finance portfolio, other major changes are likely only after the vice presidential election which would conclude by August 25.

The Monsoon Session would also end by then and it is expected that the Congress and the United Progressive Alliance would have a better idea of how much support they have and how the changes are to be made by then.

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam singh Yadav has asked for Vice Presidentship as the 'price' of his support for Mukherjee (for President), but there is a section in the Congress, that includes 10 Janpath, which is keen to retain Hamid Ansari as the Vice President for a second term.

But since the members of Parliament of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha are the voters in the RS elections, the Congress would have to take its allies on board as the arithmetic is not so simple.

With former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma raising the issue of Tribal pride, another section in the Congress wants a Tribal leader from the north east as the next vice president.

Former Nagaland Chief Minister S C Jameer is a front runner for the post.

The most immediate problem facing the congress leadership is the issue of Union Minister Virbhadra Singh who met Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Monday and offered her his resignation in the wake of a lower court in Himachal Pradesh opening up a 20-year-old case against him and his wife and ordering that the case should be heard.

Sources said that Singh is reported to have told Sonia that he would be glad to resign and that since she is his leader his loyalties lie with her. But that he would be focussing on Himachal, as the state faces elections at the end of the year.

In a huge rally held a few days ago in the state, he had said that the Congress leadership should change its policies and should go to elections with a chief ministerial candidate. He is said to be clear that if he is not named as the leader he would not head the campaign.

A number of party leaders are taking up the issue that Rahul should be given a more active role in the running of the Congress, since the feeling now is that decisions are concentrated in a few hands because of which the organisation is not able to deliver and wrong decisions are being taken.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi