Rahul Gandhi, scion of Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, is the favourite choice to be the country's next Prime Minister, a CNN-IBN opinion poll showed on Monday.
Among his ruling Congress party colleagues, Gandhi is preferred by 42% of Indians to lead the country, according to the poll.
"No other Congress leader poses any challenge to him," said leading pollster Yogendra Yadav of the New Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies which conducted the State of the Nation poll last month.
Some 34% felt Gandhi should become premier immediately, replacing Manmohan Singh, who has been painted by critics as a "lame duck" leader after failing to prevent a string of corruption scandals.
Just 22% of the 39,000 people polled in the national survey believed Singh, a Gandhi family loyalist widely seen as keeping the Prime Minister's seat warm for Rahul, should continue in the post.
Release of the poll follows a decision last week by Gandhi's mother, Sonia, to ask her son to help steer India's ruling party in her absence as she recovers from an operation.
Gandhi, 41, was named to a four-member panel to run the party's affairs while his mother, 64, who is Congress party president and seen as India's most powerful politician, recovers from surgery for an undisclosed condition.
Although long billed as a premier-in-waiting, Rahul has shunned high-profile cabinet berths in favour of grassroots activism promoting the interest of India's teeming poor and building up the party's youth wing.
The Gandhi family has dominated India's political scene for much of the period since the country's independence from Britain in 1947.
The poll, conducted for television networks CNN-IBN and CNBC-TV18, showed 54% believed Rahul was trustworthy and genuine in his concern for the poor.
Rahul Gandhi also won the poll when pitched against politicians from the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), scoring 19%.
Narendra Modi, the controversial BJP chief minister of Gujarat, was the nearest opposition leader, collecting 5%.
Modi is a divisive figure as he is accused of turning a blind eye to Hindu-Muslim riots in the state in 2002 that left some 2,000 people dead, mostly Muslims.