New Delhi: Was Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hasty in declaring Rahul Gandhi a prime ministerial candidate after the 2014 elections to the Lok Sabha?
The answer appears to be an emphatic ‘yes’ considering the fact that All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Digvijay Singh feels the statement was wrongly timed.
Singh told dna in response to a question that the PM’s statement, which was given to mediapersons accompanying him back home from the G-20 summit in St Petersberg, was a case of “wrong timing”. Digvijay Singh’s reaction is significant considering the fact that he is extremely close to 10 Janpath.
Sources in the Congress said the PM ought to have been circumspect when making a statement, which has enormous political implications. “In elections, timing is of extreme importance. Even though eventually Rahul Gandhi has to shoulder the responsibility of prime ministership, it was premature to declare his candidature so early in the day. Rahul himself would not approve of such hasty declarations,” a senior party official said. “The problem is that the PM is not a political person. He did not reach the top post through the organisational route.”
National spokesperson of the Congress Sanjay Jha, however, told dna on Sunday that Rahul Gandhi was the natural choice for prime ministership after the 2014 polls. Over the past nine years, Rahul, who is the party vice-president, has gained enormous electoral experience by participating in two national campaigns and several state-level ones, he said. Even though he prefers to maintain a low-profile, he has played a key role in strategising momentous decisions for the party.
Apart from the rural empolyment guarantee scheme, Rahul played a crucial role in the formulation of the right to education, food security and land acquisition bills, he said.
“His stress has been on the convergence of Bharat and India and all these historic legislations have been formulated with this philosophy in mind,” Jha explained. “These laws are game-changers and will bring unprecedented benefits to millions of underprivileged Indians.”
Jha said Rahul is keen that the Congress gains from these legislations. Keeping this in mind, he has been concentrating on building the party. He started with the Youth Congress and the National Students’ Union of India and now he is devoting quality time to the energisation of the organisation.
When pointed out that in several places like Mumbai and Tamil Nadu, the local presidents are still to have an executive committee, Jha said there were certain areas where work needed to be done. But Rahul’s overall emphasis has been to galvanise the party. He often felt the organisation was unable to take advantage of the progressive decisions taken by the UPA government.
Jha said Rahul will lead the party campaign for the Lok Sabha elections as and when they are held “with a positive performance card of the UPA government”.
He said apart from his “non-controversial and clean image” Rahul’s role in the framing of totally pro-poor legislations will help the Congress in a big way in the polls. Sources in the Congress said Rahul’s name had not figured in any of the scams of which the UPA has been accused of, and this is a major factor in his favour.
“In any case, Manmohan Singh and AK Antony ordered CBI inquiries whenever there were allegations of corruption,” a party office-bearer said.
Asked if Priyanka Gandhi would be roped in a big way for the Lok Sabha campaign, Jha said she was already active in the party.