Chintan Shivir: Clamour for Rahul as PM gets louder

Jaipur: Over 130 Youth Congress and NSUI leaders at the Congress' strategy session here on Saturday demanded a bigger role for the party's de facto number two Rahul Gandhi, who is expected to lead the party in the 2014 general elections.

Even Union Ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rajiv Shukla, Jitin Prasada, senior leader Manishankar Aiyar batted for larger responsibility for Rahul as the party recognised the need to respond to the demands of "new changing India peopled by a more younger" generation.

On the first day also, a number of leaders including Raj Babbar and Avtar Singh Badhana had demanded that Rahul should be declared Congress PM candidate before the party goes to next Lok Sabha polls.

Noting that Rahul was heading the party's poll coordination panel, party MP from Lakshadweep, Hamdulla Saeed, told IANS: "We want to see him (Rahul) lead in all spheres."

It is also because of the 42-year-old Gandhi that the conclave at Jaipur has seen such a large contingent from the Youth Congress and the party's student wing, National Students' Union of India. PTI

Asked, however, whether he would like Rahul Gandhi to be seen as the party's prime ministerial candidate, Saeed said that was a matter the elected MPs and party chief Sonia Gandhi would decide.

Pawan Godara, who heads the Youth Congress in Rajasthan, and is a delegate at the party's chintan shivir or introspection camp, said young leaders wanted Rahul to lead the party in the next general elections.

"Rahul Gandhi has given people like me with no political background an opportunity. He should play a bigger role now, and the seniors should guide us," Godara said.

Rahul shared the stage ON Friday with his mother and party chief Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other senior Congress leaders.

He will address the All India Congress Committee (AICC) session Jan 20.

It is also because of the 42-year-old Gandhi that the conclave at Jaipur has seen such a large contingent from the Youth Congress and the party's student wing, National Students' Union of India.

Union Minister Veeprappa Moily said, "Rahul is already a leader.We have stable leaders 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."

About the demand for larger role to Rahul, Union Minister Rajiv Shukla said, "It is to be decided by Sonia and Rahul, we can only demand and we are demanding."

Agencies