Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has for the first time indicated he is ready to take up the responsibility of being the party’s prime ministerial nominee for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“I am a soldier of Congress. I will obey whatever order is given to me. I will do whatever Congress wants me to do... Decisions are taken in our party by senior leaders,” he told Hindi daily Dainik Bhaskar in a rare interview, published on Tuesday.
Gandhi’s remarks came ahead of Friday’s All India Congress Committee (AICC) session, where he is widely expected to be named as the party’s PM candidate.
In the run-up to the AICC meeting, the chorus for declaring Gandhi the PM candidate has grown louder in the party.
“Earlier also some decisions were taken... Power is poison... does not mean that I am not keen to take responsibility. There is no word of reluctance in my life.
“… Congress has never been specific. Whatever tasks the Congress wanted me to accomplish, I have done that,” Gandhi said when asked if he was ready to take up the PM candidature and about perceptions of him being reluctant to do so.
Gandhi also sought to set at rest all speculation about a larger and direct political role for sister
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
, whose presence at recent party meetings caused a stir in political circles.
“Priyanka is my sister and friend. Besides she is an active member of Congress and that is why she is lending a helping hand to strengthen me and the organisation. I do not think she will have any electoral role,” he said.
Gandhi’s remarks found immediate endorsement from his party colleagues.
“We want him as the prime ministerial candidate. There are no two opinions about it in the rank and file,” party leader Ambika Soni said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), however, took a jibe at Gandhi, saying he will be declared Congress party’s PM candidate only because of his family connection.
“I need to remind him that it is only in the BJP that a person born into a humble tea vendor's family (Modi) can be promoted to become a prime ministerial candidate because of his hard work, integrity and leadership and also record of good governance,” said party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad.