Jaipur: In a much awaited decision, the Congress party on Saturday appointed 42-year-old Rahul Gandhi as its vice president.
The Congress Working Committee (CWC), meeting here on the sidelines of the party’s two-day ‘Chintan Shivir’, passed a resolution unanimously elevating Rahul Gandhi – till now the party general secretary – as the official number two in the party.
Expressing his gratitude and thanking the party, Rahul sought to assure everyone about his latest assignment and said he has great experience.
"I have great experience...In the last eight years that I have worked with the party I have seen it is a great organisation and together we will transform the country. It is a great party," he told the CWC in his acceptance speech.
“The entire CWC endorsed Rahul's appointment,” party chief spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi told reporters after the CWC meet.
"This decision will greatly strengthen the party and the hands of the Congress president," he stated.
Dwivedi said as to what will be Rahul's role in the next election or whether he will lead the election campaign will be decided later.
“Any election or campaign related decisions will be taken at a later stage," Dwivedi said.
He said with his appointment as Vice President of Congress today, Rahul Gandhi has been elevated to the "number two" position in the party.
"In Rahul Gandhi the party has its most effective and most accepted young leader reflecting the feelings of millions of Congress workers," Dwivedi said.
The spokesperson informed that party chief Sonia Gandhi gave the nod and Rahul accepted the responsibility.
The resolution was moved by senior party leader and Defence Minister AK Antony.
Celebrations erupted outside the venue even before the formal announcement of Rahul's new role in the party with jubilant workers bursting crackers and raising slogans hailing the young leader.
Rahul vs Modi in 2014?
The development came amid growing clamour for declaring Rahul as the prime ministerial candidate of the party.
Rahul's appointment also came 16 months ahead of the Lok Sabha polls and at a time when BJP appears to be zeroing in on Narendra Modi as its PM candidate.
He was made the Congress general secretary by Sonia Gandhi on September 24, 2007, over three years after he entered politics by becoming the party MP from Amethi, a seat represented by Rajiv Gandhi.
He was given the charge of Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India which he sought to democratise by holding regular elections.
The remarks by Dwivedi on a later-day decision about whether Rahul would be the party's face in the campaign are significant as they come in the backdrop of speculation that the elections could be a Rahul vs Modi tussle.
The elevation of Gandhi could lead to major changes in the party. Indications to this effect were given by party general secretary Digvijay Singh who said that, generally, when a new leader comes, he brings in his team.
He, however, hastened to add that even if Rahul accepts a predominant role in the organisation, he will also be part of the team headed by the party chief Sonia Gandhi.
Singh has worked closely with Rahul being in charge General Secretary of the party affairs in Uttar Pradesh.
He said that Congress has seen several young leaders as its chief like Maulana Azad and Jawahar Lal Nehru.
He, however, dismissed suggestions that the party would go for a quota in ticket distribution for those under 45 years to be in tune with India's changing democratic profile.
Singh said that there was no need for quota and the young would be automatically given preference in ticket distribution in the changed scenario with women also getting a better deal.
(With PTI inputs)
First Published: Saturday, January 19, 2013, 20:28