Sources categorically stated that Rahul will not be anointed as Congress’ prime ministerial nominee at the crucial AICC session here tomorrow.
However, a decision has been taken that Rahul will lead the party’s campaign in the Lok Sabha polls, sources in the Congress Working Committee which meter here this evening said.
The decision, sources added, was taken today at the CWC meet.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi was quoted as telling the CWC that there is no tradition in the party of anointing a PM candidate before elections.
Sources had earlier said that a section of the Congress party was against projecting Rahul as PM candidate immediately and does not want him to be exposed to the tirade of Narendra Modi, the main opposition BJP’s PM candidate.
In contrast, Rahul had in an interview published on Tuesday indicated that he was ready for the top job.
“I am a soldier of Congress. Whatever order is given to me I will follow it. Whatever Congress says, I will follow it,” Gandhi, 43, said in his rare interview with a Hindi daily.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has already ruled himself out of a third term if the ruling UPA comes back to power. He has also praised Rahul’s “outstanding credentials”.
In a rare development, Rahul yesterday attended the Congress’ core group meet at the Prime Minister’s residence here. The Congress core group includes the party’s senior-most leaders.
As per reports, Rahul is expected to attend meetings of all major party forums in the run-up to the General Elections due in May.
CWC demands Rahul
A meeting of the Congress working committee, held this evening to discuss the party’s strategy for the Lok Sabha polls and deliberate on the issues to come up at the AICC meeting tomorrow, saw a wide clamour for making Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi as the PM candidate of the party, sources said.
Uppermost on the agenda for the extended meeting of CWC, the highest decision making body of the party, was the announcement of Mr Gandhi as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party.
Sources said a clamour for declaring Mr Gandhi as PM candidate grew louder at the meeting, attended by Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Mr Gandhi himself, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and others.
However, sources said a formal announcement on Prime Ministerial candidate would be made only at tomorrow’s AICC meet, to be held at Talkatora stadium.
The demand comes even as opinion seems to be divided within the party on whether the Congress vice president should be declared party’s PM candidate.
While the youth brigade of Congress leaders, including new Rajasthan Congress Chief Sachin Pilot, Union Ministers of State Milind Deora and Jyotiraditya Scindia and Union Minister Manish Tewari have pitched for naming Mr Gandhi as PM candidate, many senior leaders of the party have argued against making a formal announcement in this regard at the AICC meeting.
In fact, in a recent interview to a daily, the Congress vice president had expressed his Willingness to take up any responsibility in the party, indicating that he is willing to be named the party’s PM nominee.
Young Congress leaders like Mr Pilot and MR Tewari have welcomed the statement by Mr Gandhi and said that they want him to be named the Congress PM candidate.