The Congress top decision-making body, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) has ‘unanimously appealed’ Rahul Gandhi, 46, to serve as President, a post his mother, Sonia Gandhi, has held since 1998.

Senior party leader A K Antony said that the time is right for Rahul to take charge as president of the party, but the final decision would be made by Sonia Gandhi. Other members of the working committee have also unanimously agreed to his proposal. Mrs Sonia Gandhi, 69, however skipped the meeting, as was reportedly unwell.

Rahul Gandhi is the second-highest-ranked member of the CWC, and is currently the Vice-President (VP) of the grand old party and the Chairperson of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India (NSUI). Earlier, he has served as a general secretary in the All India Congress Committee.

No wonder with the current announcement, the suspense over Rahul Gandhi’s elevation as president of the Congress Party has gathered momentum once again. Recently there was high drama in the national capital, with Congress VP playing virtual street fighter at the barricades over the alleged suicide by an ex-serviceman disgruntled with his pension benefits under one-rank-one-pension (OROP) scheme; several political analysts adage it as a prelude to Rahul taking charge of the Congress party.

A section of congressmen ‘strongly’ wanted Rahul Gandhi to become party president before UP Assembly polls. Those suggesting the change in party leadership were arguing that if Congress fails to perform in the forthcoming UP elections, there would be questions on Rahul’s leadership, which may further delay his elevation. It was also expected that the CWC would nominate Rahul as President, but creating a high ceremonial post for Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and paving the path for her daughter Mrs. Priyanka Gandhi’s formal entry into Congress and politics.

However, this request is not for the first time, some see it as a customary repeated nearly every year – is probably suspected to be granted for now with the Congress agreeing to move elections for party posts to next year. There is still no clarity on the exact date of transition, the ball is in Sonia’s court. The Political analysts have also maintained the transition to be ill timed, “the message that goes out to the country is there is no definitive outlook in the party for the future…. they are neither here nor there”, says N. Bhaskara Rao, a NewDelhi-based political analyst.


by Ashwani Srivastava

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