Congress keeps suspense on Rahul Gandhi’s projection

    By IANS,

    New Delhi : The Congress Wednesday maintained suspense on Rahul Gandhi’s possible declaration as its prime ministerial candidate at the AICC meeting Friday with a section in the party of the view he should take over as prime minister.

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    Party sources said some leaders favour Congress vice president Gandhi’s elevation as prime minister and not merely as prime ministerial candidate for this year’s Lok Sabha polls.

    They said a section was in favour of projecting the prime ministerial candidate with another group expressing apprehensions over the move.

    “There is a view Gandhi should take over as prime minister now. Decisions by him like extending subsidy on LPG cylinders to 12 or more and cutting down prices of petroleum products will help the party gain ground electorally,” said a party leader, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    Another party leader said Gandhi was “likely” to be projected as the prime ministerial candidate at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting.

    Sources said those pushing for declaring Gandhi as the prime ministerial candidate feel it would help boost the morale of party workers.

    These leaders feel that Congress should not appear faceless when the Bharatiya Janata Party has Narendra Modi as its prime ministerial candidate and the Aam Aadmi Party could project Arvind Kejriwal as its face for the elections.

    The sources said those against projection of a prime ministerial candidate feel the party was late in making a move and Gandhi would have to do a lot of catching up.

    These leaders also say the Congress suffered reverses in the recent assembly polls and the party prospects do not appear bright in the Lok Sabha polls.

    On Gandhi’s projection, party spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit said: “Whether there would be decision or not, it will be known Jan 17. It will depend on what is the discussion in the Congress Working Committee and the AICC.”

    “… AICC will meet. It is a large democratic body. Mostly, such opinions lead to decisions which are correct,” he said and added Gandhi was party’s “principal leader”.

    Minister of State for Personnel V. Narayanasamy, present at the Congress briefing, said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already said Gandhi had all the qualities to be prime ministerial candidate.

    There was also speculation in the Congress circles that party could decide to name Gandhi as chief of its campaign without officially naming him as the prime ministerial candidate.