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HindustanTimes Sun,28 Dec 2014

Party first: Rahul stays away from govt again

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, October 29, 2012
First Published: 00:03 IST(29/10/2012) | Last Updated: 16:20 IST(29/10/2012)

Will he, will he not - in the end he didn't. Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi, contrary to speculation in a section of media, again chose to stay away from the government.

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Even as he spent time selecting some of his protégés for ministerial berths and attended the swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan on Sunday, Gandhi made it clear once again that he would focus on strengthening the organisation.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who has been keen to have Gandhi on board, said after the reshuffle that the Congress general secretary had other pre-occupations.

"I always wanted him in the government. But he has other preoccupations. He wants to strengthen the party, Singh told reporters.

Gandhi chose not to talk about his decision to stay out of the council of ministers or his future role in the party.

He, in fact, was quick to point to media speculation about him.

Rahul Gandhi is seen during a swearing-in ceremony at Rashtrapati Bhavan. AFP

"You (the media) had even predicted that I am joining the government. You can continue to predict on my organisational role as well," he said. In the coming days, the Congress is expected to go in for a reshuffle.

After the swearing-in, Gandhi was seen chatting with young ministers such as Sachin Pilot, Milind Deora, RPN Singh and Jitin Prasada.

When asked about his "imprint" on the new-look cabinet, Gandhi joked: "I'm talking with my imprints."

In continuing with his plan to focus on party work, Gandhi leaves for Arunachal Pradesh on Monday as a part of his effort to understand organisational issues in the states.

Earlier, he visited Punjab, Jharkhand and Jammu and Kashmir and interacted with local party leaders.

He will also visit poll-bound Himachal Pradesh later this month. The hill state goes to the polls on November 4.

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