It was a meticulously planned and well-executed operation. Though the clamour for a bigger role for Rahul Gandhi in the Congress had started several months ago, his ascent as party vice-president was given final shape in the past one week only.
The reluctant Gandhi-Nehru scion, 42, was finally persuaded to assume number two position in the party after a series of discussions in which only few top leaders were involved.
Until a few days ago, senior leaders had indicated that Gandhi was yet to make up his mind on the issue.
The entire operation was kept under wraps and all plugs sealed. Surprisingly, some of Rahul Gandhi’s close aides, including party leaders, were not kept in the loop.
It was decided that the announcement would be made after a meeting of the extended Congress Working Committee (CWC) at the end of the second day of the party’s ‘chintan shivir’ (brainstorming session) in Jaipur on January 19.
But the hint of his elevation came only in the night of January 18. An e-mail from Youth Congress president Rajeev Satav to his state chiefs and district heads across the country at around 11pm said it all.
They were instructed to prepare posters and hoardings congratulating Rahul Gandhi. Samples of designs – prepared well in advance – too were sent along the directive. Some of the posters in both English and Hindi read: “Heartiest congratulations Rahulji … thanks Rahulji … hardhik bhadiyan and aapka dhanyivaad…”
A Youth Congress leader said the reason for sending the e-mail so late in the night was to hide as far as possible the news from the media and let the announcement come only after the CWC meeting.
But the media went into a tizzy when activists of the Youth Congress and National Students’ Union of India came out on roads on January 19 morning, signalling a big announcement was on the way. “Wait till evening … you will get big news,” a Youth Congress leader had told HT early in the morning on Saturday. And at around 8.30pm, senior leader Janardan Dwivedi made the announcement.