New Delhi: In a move indicating that Rahul Gandhi will be the face of the Congress in the 2014 election, he was made the head of the Congress' election committee on Thursday. In this role, he will oversee the formation of alliances, creation of manifestos as well as the communication that the party will use to reach out to voters. He will also be looking at the functioning of the cream of Congress' leadership as the party prepares for eight state polls and the national election.
The announcement coincides with the continuing buzz about a larger role for him in the party, though he has already been acknowledged publicly as the "Number two" leader of the party after his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi. Speaking to NDTV immediately after the announcement, senior party leader Digvijaya Singh said that All India Congress Committee (AICC) reshuffle is still expected, hinting that the anticipated official elevation of Mr Gandhi could still be in the works. He also declined to commit if Mr Gandhi would be the PM candidate in 2014, saying "it was too soon but you can't rule out anything in politics". (Watch: Rahul will lead an aggressive campaign, says Digvijaya Singh)
Mr Gandhi had declined, again, to take a role in government at the recent Cabinet reshuffle. His new role also put the party into full poll mode, with the announcement of three sub-committees, including the key pre-poll alliance group to be headed by senior party leader and defence minister AK Antony.
Mr Gandhi had declined, again, to take a role in government at the recent Cabinet reshuffle.
It also put the party into full poll mode, with the announcement of three sub-committees, including the key pre-poll alliance group to be headed by senior party leader and defence minister AK Antony.
Assisting Mr Gandhi will be Ahmed Patel, Mrs Gandhi's political secretary, Janaradan Dwivedi, Jairam Ramesh, Madhusudan Mistry and Digvijaya Singh. Mr Singh had been at the helm of the Congress' campaign in Uttar Pradesh, which was also led by Mr Gandhi. The results for the party in that elections were very poor, though Mr Gandhi had said that he was more concerned with re-building the party's presence in the state than winning the election.
The announcement could also be designed to rejuvenate the party cadre and take the fight to the opposition as well as civil society groups who are constantly targetting both the party and the government for corruption. The government has also been fighting the perception of "policy paralysis" and a slowing economy though many of its recent reform measures to shake off both have created dissonance within the party.
The formation of the election committee was announced by Mrs Gandhi just days ago, at a Congress brainstorming session at the outskirts of Delhi, where both Mrs Gandhi and Rahul exhorted the top leadership gathered there to prepare for elections and to take its achievements to the voter.