Rahul Gandhi to be Congress Vice President

KNW, 19-01-2013 17:06:31

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Jaipur: After months of anticipation and clamour within the Congress, Rahul Gandhi has been appointed Vice President, as the party gets battle-ready for the general elections scheduled for 2014. Accepting the new role, Mr Gandhi said, "I have great experience this is great party and we can transform this country."

Mr Gandhi is now officially No 2 in the Congress. His boss is his mother, Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

The appointment was endorsed at the Congress’ highest decision-making body, its working committee or the CWC, which met this evening at the end of a two-day brainstorming session in Jaipur.

Defence Minister AK Antony moved the proposal at the CWC which received unanimous endorsement.

"CWC accepted the proposal and after their endorsement, Mrs Sonia Gandhi also gave her approval and Shri Rahul Gandhi accepted this responsibility," Congress spokesperson Janardhana Dwivedi said.

The party was quick to emphasise that Mrs Gandhi will continue to play a bigger role. "There is a younger India and we are the first party to include the youth. Sonia Gandhi is the supreme leader and she will help with decisions. She has a bigger role," Congress role Sandeep Dikshit said.

Mr Gandhi was already assigned to leading the party’s strategy when the Congress asks voters for a third shot in power. But the Congress said today that the party will decide the PM candidate later. "Mrs Gandhi has rightly appointed Rahul Gandhi to the post of vice president. And as far as the prime ministerial post is concerned the party would decide about it later," said Congress’ Sachin Pilot.

The Congress said Mr Gandhi’s promotion today represents its commitment to representing the youth of the country. He is 41 and in states like UP and Bihar, his lead role in elections did not yield any real dividends for the party.

The substantial presence of young delegates at the Jaipur session is seen as a sign of Mr Gandhi’s increasing influence on the party. In her speech yesterday, his mother emphasised  an urgent need to address an alienation from the urban middle class, especially the youth.

Recently, the Congress responded clumsily when thousands of students protested for weeks against the gang-rape of a young student on a moving bus in Delhi. Demonstrations  demanded justice for the victim and better security for women, and there was huge anger at the failure of senior ministers to reach out to the protesters.

At ’Chintan Shivir’, Congress picks four focus areas, including social media(ndtv)

Jaipur: Making new friends while retaining the old ones, reconnecting with the middle class, reaching out to the youth, and the use of social media. These are some of the many suggestions that senior leaders of the Congress party have come up with at the Jaipur Conclave.

The issue of forging electoral alliances was a keenly debated subject. A section of the leaders felt that the Congress should cede space to its allies in states where it has been out of power (read Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu) and should test its own strength. Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath quite clearly reflected such a view.

In an exclusive interview to NDTV, Mr Kamal Nath said that the party should keep pre-poll alliances to the minimum.

"There are two kinds of coalitions, pre-election and post- election. We should keep pre-election coalitions to the minimum, so that our spread continues. Post-election, if we do not have the numbers, we have to stitch together a coalition. That’s a reality in all parliamentary democracies," Mr Kamal Nath said.

But, there are many who strongly argued for pre-poll alliances. Their assessment is that of the 543 Lok Sabha seats, Cong has minimal presence in 300 seats and therefore needs alliances. Another reason: pre-poll alliances get primacy in case of a fractured mandate.

Reaching out to the urban middle class is also an issue that figured prominently. Minister for housing and poverty alleviation, Ajay Maken, pointed out that in the last elections, Congress won 92 of the 168 urban seats and if it wants a repeat, it must reach out.

One way to do that is to use the language and means that the younger generation understands best. Modern technology platforms like Twitter and Facebook should be used by the Congress to send its message, party leaders felt. Kapil Sibal said apart from youth, the party should reach out to the marginalised sections of society.

Protection of minorities and women is an issue that was raised by Kapil Sibal and Sheila Dikshit. While everyone agreed that the Congress should send a strong message and perhaps set an example by debarring tainted candidates from contesting elections, former Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh sounded a word of caution. In states like Punjab, where the relations between the Akalis and the Congress are adversarial, false cases could be filed against popular leaders.

These points have now been submitted to the Congress President and are likely to be debated by the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, before the Jaipur Declaration is finalised

Comments on this Article
Jossey Saldanha, Mangalore/Mapusa/Mumbai Sun, January-20-2013, 12:42
Most parties dont even know who is their No. 1 ...........
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