New Delhi: The big churning in the Congress has begun. Congress’ prince’ Rahul Gandhi on Thursday announced that he is ready to play a more active role in the party and the government.
Speaking to the media in Parliament after he cast his vote in the Presidential poll, Rahul said, "I will play more proactive role in the party and the government. The decision has been taken, the timing is up to the leadership."
This is the first time that Rahul Gandhi has spoken about the possibility of joining the government or taking up a bigger role in the Congress, led by his mother Sonia Gandhi.
His comments came a day after the Congress president said it was up to her son to decide on taking up a bigger role.
Sources told Zee News, a clear roadmap has been prepared by Sonia Gandhi for Rahul Gandhi and what remains now is just the formal announcement of the same.
It is believed that a major reshuffle of the UPA cabinet will be carried out before the Monsoon Session of Parliament on August 8.
Going by his areas of interests, Rahul may take charge of Rural Development, Panchayati Raj or HRD Ministry, reports said.
On the party front, he may take over as working president of the party or vice-president. Currently, he is in-charge of Youth Congress and NSUI.
Congress leaders have been urging Rahul Gandhi to move to the party`s mainstream amid growing clamour for projecting him as prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha polls, likely in 2014.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had himself urged Rahul, a number of times, to join the government.
Congress leader Digvijay Singh, one of the vociferous proponents of Rahul Gandhi taking up the top job, had recently expressed confidence that he would lead the party at "an appropriate time".
The voices for Rahul Gandhi`s bigger role grew louder after Law and Justice Minister Salman Khurshid in a newspaper interview said the ruling party was yet to get any ideological direction from him.
External Affairs Minister SM Krishnahad also suggested that Rahul Gandhi should join the government as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had already invited him and that invitation still stands.
Congress spokesperson Janardhan Dwivedi said Rahul`s announcement today should be seen as
a supplementary to what the Congress President has said yesterday.
"It is very clear. I don`t think it needs any further comment. After the role of the Congress president, Rahul`s role is important," he said.
Digvijay Singh said that there has been all-round demand from the Congress that Rahul should shoulder greater responsibility in the party.
"He (Rahul) is correct in saying that it was for the party to decide on the timing," he said.
Singh said Rahul has to decide on whether he wants to play a greater role in the party or the government.
"I am very happy to note that he has agreed to play a more proactive role," Singh said.
Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily said this was a time for the enthusiastic and passionate youth leader to take a greater role not only in politics but also in the governance of the country.
"He (Gandhi) needs to do that. This is a time when we require the enthusiastic and passionate youth leader to take a greater role not only in politics but also governance of this country," Moily said.
Moily pointed out that Congress President Sonia Gandhi
has already made it clear that it was for Rahul to take the appropriate step.
"He has been there. He has the capacity, he has reached the youth of the country and taken positive actions in the Youth Congress and he is set to occupy a higher role," said Moily, a former Karnataka chief minister.
Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said Rahul`s larger role in the party will "definitely" help the organisation.
"If Rahul Gandhi decides so, it is certainly a welcome move and it will definitely help the party," Deo said.
Union Minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah said it was necessary for Rahul to shoulder greater responsibility.
"India needs the services of its youth. We have done our bit and are still doing it," Abdullah said.
However, Abdullah said it was upto Gandhi to decide when to take such a step and he cannot force him.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said he welcomes any decision Congress President Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi takes (about the latter taking a greater role in the party or joining the government).
"Rahul Gandhi is capable of handling anything or any job very effectively," Bansal said.
Senior leader of Samajwadi Party Mohan Singh said Rahul Gandhi should play a bigger role as "UPA lacks leadership".
"His role will also help India find out his leadership qualities," Singh said, whose party has bailed out the Congress-led UPA government on many troubled occasions.
With PTI inputs