When will Rahul Gandhi play a larger role in the Congress party? The answer can come only from Rahul Gandhi who has so far kept his party guessing.
Rahul had turned down a suggestion to become working president or vice-president of the party a few months ago.
Just before Congress president Sonia Gandhi went abroad for a medical procedure in the first week of August, there was a suggestion that Rahul be appointed working president and head of the four-member committee the Congress president had before her departure announced to run the day-to-day affairs of the party in her absence. At that time, the 41-year-old Rahul had turned down the proposal.
“He had said no then. So, when he will agree depends entirely on him,” a senior party official told HT on Monday. It is no more a matter of speculation that Rahul will enlarge his role in the government, the party official added.
Significantly, the four-member committee, which had no formal convenor, held four meetings while Sonia was away and all of them took place at Rahul’s Tughlak Lane residence.
The party had maintained complete silence on the committee’s functioning other than making a formal announcement of its constitution, leading to criticism that it remained only on paper. Rahul was not present at one meeting as he was abroad with his mother.
Before going abroad, Sonia Gandhi had appointed defence minister AK Antony, her political secretary, Ahmed Patel, and general secretaries Janardan Dwivedi and Rahul Gandhi as members of the committee.
Antony’s name was the first, followed by Rahul’s in the communication. The committee was announced after Rahul did not warm up to the idea of becoming the party’s working president or vice-president.
Party sources also said Rahul was requested by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “at least three times” to join the union cabinet but he chose not to.
Whether enlarging his role is a euphemism for Rahul stepping into his mother's shoes to steer the Congress or not is something that may become clear in the coming weeks. There have been reports in sections of the media that he will take over the reins from his mother. Some reports even speculated that he would replace his mother as Congress president.