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Rahul to be inducted into Cong core group?

July 16, 2012 23:36 IST

While there is no doubt that Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi will expand his political space in times to come, what is intriguing are the contradictory statements coming out of senior Congress leaders.

This has led to the confusion on what Rahul really wants and whether different sections of the party are working at cross purposes when it comes to the young heir who it is presumed would take over the reigns of the party at some future date.

All India Congress Committee general secretary Digvijaya Singh who has had many a gag order slapped on him for speaking out of turn, has again forcefully stated, "Finally, the time has come for Rahul to play a larger and bigger role in the party."

He said that after the Presidential and vice presidential elections are over, Rahul will be seen to be playing a more proactive role in the party.

Asked to explain what he meant by a larger role, he said that so far Rahul was confining himself to the students' wing and the Youth Congress, and he should now come into the mainstream of Congress politics. He added that this will be decided by the Congress president.

Digvijaya Singh said he was merely reflecting the general feeing of the Congressmen who want to see Rahul playing a more proactive role in mainstream politics.

While there is no clarity on what is his larger role and who stopped him from taking it up in the past, another senior general secretary who did not wish to be named, clearly indicated there was no question of Rahul becoming either the acting or working president of the party.

He said this has only happened briefly in the past when the president has been overburdened or has not been able to attend to his or her duties, "But we have a full time party president so all such speculation is futile," he added.

The concerned general secretary also denied that Rahul was headed to the government to get some much deserved experience in handling administrative matters.

There is speculation that with the exit of Pranab Mukherjee, Rahul may be inducted into the Congress core group which is now the main authorised body which takes decisions on all important issues on governance and sometimes even the party.

The core group is headed by Sonia, and it meets once a week on average to thrash out key issues.

While Singh was clear that Sonia would lead the election campaign in 2014, there is a view emerging in the party that keeping in mind the new realities of Indian politics, a prime minister should be projected for the 2014 elections.

A senior general secretary said that within the party they would press for this to be done to tell the people who would be the prime minister if the party is voted to power.

Sources say that more and more party men would take up the demand to project a face for the next election. Interestingly, it is these same leaders who never tired of pointing out how the Congress has no culture of projecting either a PM or a CM.

It is felt that the anti-incumbency of UPA-II can also be wiped out to some extent if the party projects a fresh and young face as the new mascot for UPA-III.

But for the moment there appears to be a great deal of confusion and chaos both within the party and the government on major structural changes which need to be taken after Mukherjee's exit.

Sources say that with the United States putting pressure on the government to open FDI in retail and take other reform measures, the prime minister wants to hold onto the finance portfolio for the time being or at least for some months to put correctives in place.

But sources say that Sonia wants Union Home Minister P Chidambaram to be made finance minister at the earliest, and this has created confusion over when exactly the reshuffle would take place.

Linked to this is other appointments and whether the changes would be on a large-scale to give a fresh impetus to the government or merely cosmetic as has been the Sonia's style.

And caught in the midst of all this is the larger role for Rahul which is still being worked out, by all accounts.

Renu Mittal in New Delhi