New Delhi: Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is
likely to be appointed the working president of the party soon to
help his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi, setting the
stage for a transition process at the helm of India's oldest
party, informed party sources said.
"The delegation of higher responsibilities to Rahulji is a only a
matter of when, not if," a senior Congress leader told IANS.
"But knowing the style of Soniaji (Sonia Gandhi) and Rahulji, I
feel all the dates and timeframes circulated are still
speculative," he added. "It can happen soon, but how soon is
Sonia, who had returned two months ago from the US after surgery
for an undisclosed illness, but which was widely rumoured to be
cancer, is said to be keen to delegate some of her administrative
charges to Rahul, leaving herself free to look after policy
Rahul, 41, currently is a general secretary of the All India
Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of youth and student wings and
a second-term Lok Sabha member from the family bastion Amethi.
Another party leader said the decision on the timing of Rahul's
assumption will be taken in the family, basically between Sonia
and Rahul and may be in consultation with Rahul's sister Priyanka
"It is a close-knit family. During Sonia's illness it was the son
and sister who were with her, by turns," he pointed out. "And if
the transfer of power comes soon, it may have something to do with
the health condition of Sonia, which appears near to normal if her
participation in functions and party meetings are any indication."
Party sources said ardent Rahul fans in the election-bound Uttar
Pradesh want him to be made the working president at the earliest
and keep circulating dates like Nov 14 (birth anniversary of his
great grandfather and India's first prime minister Jawaharlal
Nehru) and Nov 19 (the birth anniversary of his grandmother and
former prime minister Indira Gandhi)
Meanwhile, another leader in New Delhi told IANS that Dec 28 - the
126th foundation day of the Indian National Congress - may be the
But other party leaders point out that both Sonia and Rahul will
be busy in the coming weeks and months, leading the election
campaign in the five states - Uttar Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh,
Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur.
"So if any new position for Rahul may be after the UP polls likely
in February. Hope the Congress tally goes above the current 22
MLAs and Rahulji has something to show by then," said a leader,
who also spoke without wishing to be named as it was a highly
In fact, Rahul Gandhi had declared in Varanasi recently that he
has begun the Uttar Pradesh campaign, though he is likely to
conduct a 'padyatra' (walkabout) at Phulpur, the traditional
constituency of the Nehru family Nov 14.
"Sonia is likely to address a election meeting in Uttarakhand next
week," party sources said.
The fact that Sonia Gandhi is planning to campaign may reduces the
chances of she handing over the presidentship to the son," a Youth
Congress leader, who also did not want to be named, said. "At the
most it can be working presidentship for him."
He said there had been several reports in the past years - during
both the UPA-I and UPA-II - that Rahul may join the cabinet, which
did not happen.
"Slowly and steadily have been the style of the mother-son duo's
mantra," the youth leader said.
"Unless Soniaji's health warrants it. But after her return to
India Sep 8 after the surgery, she had attended several Congress
meetings and the meeting of the National Advisory Council (NAC)
which she heads.
"She had been at the Ramlila celebrations as well as at the Shakti
Sthal to pay tributes to Indira Gandhi on her assassination day."
But political circles point out that Rahul Gandhi's is engaging
himself in important party affairs and the governmental matters
Several Congress leaders, led by general secretary Digvijay Singh
had been hailing Rahul as the future prime minister, while Prime
Minister Manmohan Singh has mentioned Rahul as a future leader.
"Now Sonia is back and the the four-member committee abandoned. It
is for her to decide the new role of Rahul," the Youth Congress
The concept of working presidents in the party is not new. Arjun
Singh was working president at the time of Rajiv Gandhi and
Kamalapati Tripathi was the party's first working president during
the last years of Indira Gandhi.