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Big debut from high-risk state

Rahul Gandhi's statement in Rae Bareli is a clear indication that he wants to take centrestage in national politics.

india Updated: Apr 26, 2006 02:38 IST

Rahul Gandhi's statement in Rae Bareli that he could even think of leading the party in the next year's Assembly polls is clear indication that wants to take centrestage in national politics. While his detractors may feel the young Gandhi has taken a big risk, given the state of the Congress in UP, Rahul's offer is apparently aimed at enthusing party workers all over the country.

It is not without significance that the announcement was made from Rae Bareli. The constituency represented once by his grandparents - Feroze and Indira Gandhi and from where his mother is seeking re-election.

Rahul willingness for a bigger role was only a reiteration of his maiden speech at the Congress's Hyderabad plenary session on January 23. And like then, he has left the decision to Congress president Sonia Gandhi. He has chosen UP, one of the worst states for the Congress, for his big time debut knowing well that unless the party does well in the state its chances of increasing its overall tally in Parliament may not be too bright.

Rahul's readiness to play a proactive role is also aimed at reassuring people of Rae Bareli who were disappointed with Sonia Gandhi turning down the offer to become prime minister after the 2004 verdict. He has tried to tell them that the effort to resurrect the party in the state will begin from Rae Bareli and Amethi, his own constituency.

Speculation has already begun if Rahul will be made both general secretary and member of the Congress Working Committee to start with. But it is certain that like all the Nehru-Gandhis before him, Rahul will make his debut from the organisation and not the government as some senior Congressmen wanted him to do so.

His active role in the organisation is bound to change party equations and leaders who may have played a vital role till now may have to play second fiddle to him. If he does indeed come in as a general secretary, the party after many years will have a clear number two. So far many leaders have been close to the Congress president but no one had that status since party workers always felt it was Sonia Gandhi alone who was number one. The exception may be made this time, however.

It is also to be seen how soon the party high command will take a decision on Rahul's induction in the big league and how he will fit into the power equation which exist within the organisation and its relations with other allies, some of whom may accuse the Congress of playing dynastic politics.

First Published: Apr 26, 2006 02:38 IST