Future PM overshadows Congress’s present one
By Santwana Bhattacharya - JAIPUR
Published: 20th Jan 2013 07:24:59 AM
The formal Jaipur Declaration—the future roadmap—of the Congress party will be released on Sunday. But what is evident is that, Manmohan Singh will not be the Prime Minister in 2014 if the Congress comes to power again. It will be Rahul Gandhi. The orchestrated confabulations and speeches in favour of Rahul at Jaipur was just a build-up to the coronation. At the CWC meeting on Saturday evening, A K Antony proposed that Rahul be made the party’s vice president. Amidst the thumping of desks, the party president Sonia Gandhi smilingly gave her consent. Manmohan Singh was not just overshadowed, but nearly forgotten. The party constitution would now be amended to create the new post for Rahul. The only vice president so far has been Arjun Singh who was appointed on 19 January 1986, exactly 27 years ago.
Rahul’s moment of glory threw a long shadow over Manmohan Singh’s reign: this is perhaps the first time a sitting Prime Minister has been so emphatically sidelined and his nine-year stint in office ignored by his own party. Rahul is the winning horse, especially for the young leaders. “Rahul represents the demographic dividend. We want him to lead in 2014 but he has to take the final call,” said Jyotiraditya Scindia, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power. Says Milind Deora: “There is a consensus and feeling in the Shivir that the youths are to be empowered. On the first day of the Shivir many delegates like Raj Babbar and Avtar Singh Bandana said that Rahul should be declared the PM candidate before the party goes into Lok Sabha elections.’ Jitin Prasada, another Rahul groupie said, “Things are being discussed as how to politically engage the youth with the party’s programmes, the best way is certainly to get Rahul to lead us. He’s of course already our leader.’’
Sources at the shivir say that the official installation of the GenNext leader was being stayed on the pretext that “he’s already been accepted as our future leader and no formal announcement is required’’. Prime Minister Singh may be forced to say a line or two ushering in the new leader, asking the youth in the party take on more responsibility.
However, it was Ambika Soni and Motilal Vora—the convenor and the co-convenor of the Shivir—who gave an inkling to Rahul’s mind while inaugurating the Chintan. “He would rather work for the party than the government. Like Soniaji, he knows, it is the party which makes a government possible and it’s on the strength of the party that everything else depends.’’ What was evident was the fact that Rahul’s elevation was a fait accompli. As usual, the Gandhi family won again.