NEW DELHI (TIP): Congress echoed with calls on October 10 that Rahul Gandhi lead the next government, putting back on centrestage the demand that the party vice-president be declared the PM candidate for 2014 elections. A day after Rahul announced that the party would form a government of youth after the next Lok Sabha elections, Congress said it was the collective wish of workers that he take charge. AICC spokesman P C Chacko said, “We hope he will lead the party in the elections and take up the reins of the administration after elections.” The stance diverged from the Congress leadership’s reluctance to pitch Rahul in the prime ministerial contest that would pit him in a direct contest with the BJP candidate for the top job, Narendra Modi. The reluctance has been attributed as much to the desire to avoid a clash of personalities in the 2014 polls as to deal with an unclear mandate in which heading a coalition may require an experienced hand.
That is where Rahul’s comments in Rampur are seen as a big leap, indicating a willingness to be seen as the PM in the next government. On Thursday, Rahul told a rally, “The 2014 elections are coming. Once again, a government of the common man and the poor will be formed. Listen to me carefully. A government of the youth will be formed in 2014, which will transform this country.” It was enough for Congress leaders to raise the Rahulfor- PM clamour. Home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said, “I welcome Rahul’s statement. Very rightly, he has said that the leadership should go into the hands of the youth. And our desire is that Rahul should become the PM of this great country.” Asked about the prime ministership, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit said, “I would like to, and I know a lot of young people would like to, see him (Rahul) take a much bigger role. He is playing a bigger role and he will come to it gradually. Things happen in Congress politics when the moment comes.”