In the clearest signal yet of Rahul Gandhi’s emerging primacy in the Congress, the draft party strategy paper on the 2014 election says that the party will proclaim his “leadership” in the run-up to the poll.
Titled “Agenda 2014”, the confidential document spanning nearly 30 pages devotes nearly three full pages to “Rahul Gandhi as the leader” but stops short of naming him prime ministerial candidate.
Sources said the document talks about how Gandhi’s leadership will have a positive impact on the youth and galvanise the organisation. The campaign will revolve around his style and content.
Agenda 2014 divides strategy into five-point objectives and highlights inclusive growth and stable government. Inclusive growth was the central theme of a speech made by Rahul to industrialists last week, while party president Sonia Gandhi has repeatedly stressed the importance of stability and the need for the second United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to complete its full term.
When the 42-year-old Gandhi scion was appointed party vice-president in January, jubilant Congressmen were quick to declare him prime minister in waiting.
But confusing signals followed: Rahul himself declared that the PM post was not his priority, while spokesmen contradicted each other over whether or not the power-sharing arrangement between PM Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi was a model that Rahul could follow if Congress came to power next year.
Rahul, often seen as a reluctant politician, came out of the shadows last week to deliver a 75-minute speech to the CII, to mixed reviews.
He has promised to make more public appearances, lending weight to the theory that he will be built up as the party's hope for 2014 to counter Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi, fast emerging as the darling of the opposition BJP.
Interestingly, the election blueprint also seems to draw inspiration from US President Barack Obama's second victory as a separate chapter speaks about his campaign strategy, especially on the social media. Obama's deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter, who led his internet campaign, was in India last month to interact with the political leadership.
There is a separate chapter to deal with strategy for 35 states/ union territories. This is under "Platform 2014".