JAIPUR: The Congress is now relying and focusing more on Rahul Gandhi. This fact was proved when Congress made a generational shift as Rahul Gandhi formally named as Congress vice-president of the party leaving no ambiguity that he would be its prime ministerial candidate for 2014. The Congress on Saturday appointed Rahul Gandhi, party vice-president endorsing a demand from a cross-section of the 127-year-old organisation
After flustering for months, Rahul finally decided to take responsibility as No. 2 in the party, probably setting the stage for a direct fight with Gujarat chief minister, Narendra Modi. The elevation also signals that the Grand Old Party could undergo a generational change with the young guard finally getting a bigger role in the organisation at the All India Congress Committee.
The decision is also aimed at galvanising a party which has suffered a string of defeats in the assembly elections. However, how much Rahul would be able to rejuvenate the electoral fortunes of the Congress is anybody’s guess as the 42-year-old’s track record has been quite poor. His only direct intervention has been in Uttar Pradesh where he hand-picked candidates and personally ran the campaign in 2012 assembly elections. After the miserable rout was blamed on him, Rahul had not taken a direct responsibility in any state election.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi had set the stage for this change when she had emphasised the need for connecting the party with the new and younger electorate in her inaugural address on Friday at the two-day chintan shivir in Jaipur. The final call was taken after the conclusion of the shivir on Saturday. Before the meeting of the extended Congress Working Committee began on Saturday evening, senior leader and defence minister AK Antony rose to move a resolution. He said that “people’s wishes” should be honoured and Rahul should be given a bigger role in the party. He moved a resolution saying Rahul be made vice-president of the party.
Gandhi is now the general secretary of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) .
Many delegates at the three-day “Chintan Shivir” here wanted Gandhi to be entrusted with a central role. The Congress Working Committee (CWC) also accepted a proposal to appoint him second in command.
At the 90-minute CWC meeting on Saturday, Gandhi’s name was proposed by Defence Minister A K Antony and supported by all others.
Briefing journalists after the meet, Congress spokesperson Janardhana Dwivedi said: “Forwarding the proposal, Antony said Congressmen have been demanding that Rahul Gandhi should be given a bigger role.
The CWC has accepted the proposal and after their endorsement, Sonia Gandhi gave her approval. And Rahul Gandhi accepted the responsibility. With his appointment, Rahul Gandhi has been elevated to the number two position in the Congress. And I am sure that he will strengthen the party.”
Party workers celebrated the announcement by bursting crackers in front of party headquarters in Delhi, as well as the Birla auditorium here, the venue of the brainstorming session.
Accepting the position, Rahul Gandhi told the workling committee members: “We will work together to transform the country”.
This is only the third time the Congress has named a leader as vice-president. Rajiv Gandhi had named Arjun Singh vice-president in the 1980s. At that time, Singh had added stature to the post and had become a major power centre within the party. Later in 1997, when Sitaram Kesri was the party president he had named Jitendra Prasada to the post.
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