Amid talk that Rahul Gandhi will be given a larger responsibility, clamour for declaring the young leader as the Congress Prime Ministerial candidate grew louder in the party’s Chintan Shivir on Saturday.
Union Ministers Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rajiv Shukla, Jitin Prasada and senior leader Manishankar Aiyar batted for larger responsibility for Mr. Gandhi as the party recognised the need to respond to the demands of “new changing India peopled by a more younger” generation.
Young leader Milind Deora said, “It is a consensus and feeling in the Shivir that youths should be empowered”.
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.
“Rahul will lead the party during 2014 general elections and would be the prime ministerial candidate,” party leader Sanjay Nirupam said before the discussions began on Day 2.
Uttar Pradesh leader Jitin Prasada said, “Things are being discussed as to how we can ensure participation of youths. Rahul is certainly our leader and he will lead 2014 general elections of Congress and the country as well.”
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 Mr. Gandhi, Union Minister Rajiv Shukla said, “It is to be decided by Sonia and Rahul, we can only demand and we are demanding.”
Party leader Manishankar Aiyar said the entire party is with Rahul Gandhi but it is he, who has to take a decision to adopt a larger responsibility in the party".
“For us, the priority is to empower people and discussions are being made,” he said.
The Modi threat
As the party debated its future course of action and its strategy to come to power in 2014 general elections and reviving the party’s fortunes in States, the leaders did recognise the challenge coming from BJP’s Narendra Modi.
Mr Aiyar, however, felt that Mr. Modi’s projection will work to the advantage of Congress.
“As far as BJP is concern, there is infighting in BJP. They cannot hold such Chintan Shivir because they are the puppets of RSS,” he charged.
“There are several leaders Narendra Modi, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi and L K Advani but the Congress is quite clear on its leadership,” Mr. Shukla said.