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Congress wonders if India needs another Gandhi

india Updated: Apr 15, 2008 16:01 IST
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Important voices are being raised in favour of Rahul Gandhi as India's next prime minister, as the ruling party looks to its family dynasty to fill a leadership vacuum as a general election approaches.

"What is wrong in wanting a young person like Rahul Gandhi to be Congress's prime ministerial candidate?" Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh, one of the ruling Congress party's elder statesmen, told Indian Express newspaper.

Similar comments from Singh were widely reported across India's media. They were followed by another statement of support, this time from Tamil Nadu chief minister M. Karunanidhi, one of the government's key regional allies.

The statements come as Congress searches for a candidate to lead it into an election expected sometime between October and May, a vote that will pit the left-of-centre party against the more pro-market Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

"Congress is throwing out trial balloons," said political analyst Pran Chopra. "It's making an investment in Rahul."

Many in the ruling Congress see Rahul, the young heir of the Nehru-Gandhi family, as the best hope for a party stung by losses in state elections, perceived weak leadership from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and rising food prices.

"The statements indicate that many in Congress seem to be unhappy with Manmohan Singh," said political commentator Kuldip Nayar.

The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has ruled for most of the time since independence. Rahul's great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru was the the first prime minister in 1947. His grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv also ran India, before both were assassinated.