Hyderabad: The demand for early elevation of Rahul Gandhi as Congress President grew louder today with the party's Rajasthan unit chief Sachin Pilot saying the time is right for the transition as the party needs to gear up for Assembly elections due next year.
The party's good show in the recent Bihar Assembly elections has rejuvenated it and boosted the morale of the rank and file and the outfit is now showing signs of recovery after the drubbing it received in Lok Sabha polls last year, the former Union Telecom Minister said.
Pilot sought to give full credit to Rahul for the party's performance in Bihar, where it won 28 seats of the 41 contested, and even for forging Grand Alliance with JDU and RJD which trounced that BJP-led NDA, winning 178 of 243 seats.
"We were not the main player in Bihar for 25 years. But because of Rahul Gandhi's efforts, because of the competition that we were able to stitch up together, our seat tally went up to 28 from four (in the previous Assembly).?As far as Congress party is concerned, the results in Bihar show the role Gandhi played", he told PTI in an interview.
"But more than that, it's a fact that secular parties came together on a platform. Rahul Gandhi was the one who first approached and he had a meeting with Nitish Kumar who was then projected as CM candidate and then of course, Lalu Yadav joined the alliance," he said.
Asked if the poll outcome would hasten the elevation of Rahul Gandhi as party President, Pilot said its timing depends on the Congress Working Committee, party President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul himself.
"As far as we are concerned, both of them (Sonia and Rahul) are giving able leadership. But..Rahul...Yes...There are demands...For example at CLP meeting in Bihar, there was a demand from newly elected MLAs that Rahul should take over as Congress President. And we all believe that. (But) the decision is up to them (CWC, Sonia and Rahul).
"But we will like it (elevation of Rahul) to happen as soon as possible because now the party is steadily (growing in strength again) and we have elections in Assam, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal etc.(next year)", Pilot said.
Amritsar MP, Captain Amarinder Singh, who is also Congress Deputy Leader in Lok Sabha, said yesterday that time has come for the party Vice-President to take over the reins of the party, echoing views of party leaders who are pushing for such a move, particularly after the Bihar election outcome.
Noting that the Bihar outcome has given impetus and momentum to Congress workers, Pilot said it has certainly given strength to secular parties all over the country "having overcome BJP in Bihar".
"...Now we (Congress) are seeing signs of recovery, and the party is beginning to get into a mould where we are going to be capable of earning people's trust transformed (into electoral successes)", he said.
Asked about Congress "position" vis-?-vis UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's reported statement that Grand Alliance (similar to the one seen in Bihar) is possible in his State where Assembly elections are due early 2017, Pilot said it's far too soon to start thinking about "all these options" in Uttar Pradesh, noting that Assembly elections are slated in some other States before the one in UP.?
But he added that there is a definitive mood in the nation to teach a "befitting lesson to the BJP. It started with Bihar. Anti-BJP sentiment is on the rise".
As whether the "secular alliance" model that one saw would be the way forward in elections in other States, Pilot said: "Every state is different but one thing is sure that the Congress party commitment to fighting communal forces will remain at the top of our agenda. Let's wait for each
Assembly election and start coming to a point where that decision (on alliances) will have to be made".