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Enter Rahul Gandhi, with a bang

Sonia had apparently been waiting for an occasion to initiate him into big-time politics, writes Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: May 12, 2006 09:33 IST

Congress president Sonia Gandhi's victory in Rae Bareli with a record-breaking margin has ensured that her son and Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi will soon have to assume greater responsibility in the organisation at the national level. Even Sonia Gandhi, while praising Rahul and his team, on Thursday evening provided enough indication that he was going to play an important role in the future.

This is the first time she has publicly responded to speculation in political circles over a bigger political assignment for her son, who may be made the party general secretary around May 26 when the district presidents meet in the capital.

For Rahul Gandhi, the manager of the Rae Bareli campaign, there seems to be no escape but to plunge full-time into party work with UP as part of his overall responsibility. His presence in the electoral arena has given the desired hype to Congress workers, which cannot be allowed to dissipate.

If the Congress high command does not make use of this opportunity to push Rahul on to the centrestage, it may not be easy to subsequently rev up the enthused workers. Rahul won over the voters in his mother's constituency with his plain and honest speaking.

Even after the victory, he maintained his composure to show that he had accomplished the task entrusted to him by his mother and in doing so, had succeeded in channelling the energies of the Congress workers. Sister Priyanka, also a big draw gave him "11 out of 10" for organising the poll. Praise poured in all quarters. The first signals of Rahul's imminent entry into big-time Congress politics were conspicuous at the AICC plenary at Hyderabad in January this year.
The session provided a soft launch for him. And when he was asked by Sonia Gandhi to take over the command of Rae Bareli, it was clear that he had been chosen for a greater role. Other indications of him being handed more responsibility were when the AICC was revamped before the Hyderabad plenary and younger leaders accommodated. 

Next were the Rajya Sabha nominations, where several party activists who could walk along with him in the "Congress of tomorrow" were handpicked. Some young leaders like Ajay Maken were accommodated and others like Bharat Solanki entrusted with party responsibilities.

Sonia had apparently been waiting for an occasion to initiate him into big-time politics. She did not succumb to the pressure at Hyderabad to give him one of the three vacant CWC seats. But it is inevitable that he will make it to the highest decision-making body by virtue of being one of the general secretaries, a post he is likely to be given now. The change is expected around May 26, when the party district presidents meet in the capital.