Rahul Gandhi crowned Congress Vice-president
It is official. Rahul Gandhi is now the number two in Congress, only after his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi, as the 128-year-old party crowned the Gandhi family scion as the vice-president ahead of the 2014 general elections when he is touted to take on the opposition BJP which could pitch Gujarat chief minster Narendra Modi against him.
Congress General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi made the big announcement at the party's Chintan Shivir here saying: "AK Antony proposed the name of Rahul Gandhi as Vice President before party president Sonia Gandhi. He said for many days media and people were asking if he would take a bigger role. The CWC welcomed this proposal and Sonia Gandhi gave her yes and Rahul Gandhi accepted the proposal."
"With his appointment as the VP of Indian National Congress today he has been elevated to the Number 2 position in the Congress party. This decision will greatly strengthen the party and the hands of the Congress president," Dwivedi said.
Congress is the only pan Indian party and unifying force which has all kinds of representation, he said.
He, however, said whether Rahul Gandhi will lead the party in the 2014 polls will be decided later.
Reaching to the development, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) reacted sarcastically.
BJP leader Rajiv Pratap Rudy said whether Rahul is number two or not officially does not matter since Congress has always stuck to only one family for leadership, that of the Gandhis.
Congress leaders one after another parried reporters' questions on whether Rahul Gandhi would be more visible and vocal now or remain under the shadow of Sonia Gandhi and the party seniors since he is for years "enjoying power without what critics said sharing much of responsibility."
The move on Rahul Gandhi comes amid heightened clamour for the Congress party poster boy to be named as the party's Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 elections.
Several top political leaders, who are attending the party's ongoing 'Chintan Shivir' in Jaipur, urged to name Gandhi as the party's Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections.
Speaking to reporters, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said: "We hope that Rahul Gandhi plays a bigger role in and before the 2014 elections."
Petroleum and natural gas minister M Veerappa Moily told media: "Rahul is already a leader.We have stable leaders and we are proud of them. Congress has always enjoyed great leadership. If there is any disconnect we are discussing these concerns and will ensure that there is proper connect."
Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor has also backed Gandhi's candidature as the next Prime Minister.
Speaking to media, Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam said: "It has been nearly announced that we are going to contest the 2014 general elections under Rahul Gandhi's leadership. There is no doubt in it. He is definitely our candidate for the post of prime minister after the 2014 elections."
Congress General Secretary Digvijaya Singh, however, said the Congress never announces the name of its PM candidate in advance and Rahul Gandhi should not be 'pressurised'.
"We will speak of Rahul Gandhi's role when we're ready. When party and Rahul are ready, we will let you know," said Union communications and information technology minister Kapil Sibal.
It has been speculated by many that the 2014 Lok Sabha elections might witness a clash between Gandhi and Gujarat Chief Minister and BJP leader Narenra Modi for the Prime Ministerial post.