Rahul Gandhi will hoist the national flag at the All India Congress Committee headquarters at 24, Akbar Road on August 15, in the absence of Congress president Sonia Gandhi who is away in New York on medical leave having undergone an operation.
Sources said the issue was discussed at the core committee meeting held last week where it was decided that Rahul would hoist the flag if he is back in New Delhi before the August 15. Sonia is expected to return after another 2 weeks at a conservative estimate.
The convention is that if the Congress president is unavailable, the senior-most general secretary of the party presides over the function and hoists the flag. In this case, this would be Motilal Vora, who has undertaken this task in the past as well (when Sonia was away on January 26).
There was also speculation that A K Antony, as the seniormost in the group of four which has been constituted to run the party's affairs in Sonia's absence, would perform this duty of the party. However, a senior leader said this was highly unlikely, as the choice would only be between Rahul and Vora.
Sources said that Rahul hoisting the flag would be seen as significant, as it would establish beyond any reasonable doubt that he was on track to take on a much bigger role in running the party and not just keep himself confined to the Youth Congress or the National Students Union of India.A senior leader said that Sonia, because of her poor health, is expected to use the opportunity to delegate more work to Rahul -- first guiding him and then handing over the reigns of the party to him.
This is expected to be sooner than expected though it is still a matter of conjecture on when exactly she would make him the working president of the party.