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‘Congress wants Rahul Gandhi as PM’

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A TOP minister of India’s ruling Congress on Wednesday (January 24) said Rahul Gandhi, scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, was the party’s “consensus” choice to be its prime ministerial candidate in elections in 2014.

The statement by parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath came after Gandhi was named Congress vice-president last weekend, making him second in the party hierarchy behind his mother Sonia, who is president.

“I think, everyone in the party…would like to see Rahul Gandhi” as the candidate for prime minister, Nath said in Davos, Switzerland, where he was attending a global economic forum.

“It is not like there are names floating around. There is one single name,” said Nath who is seen as a leading party power broker.

Nath’s remarks were the strongest indication yet that party wants the 42-year-old to be its candidate in the general elections.

The calls for Gandhi — the son, grandson and great-grandson of prime ministers — to assume what many Congress supporters say is his political destiny come despite the party’s dismal showings in states where he spearheaded recent campaigns.

Gandhi’s mother has long been seen as grooming him to succeed Manmohan Singh, 80, as prime minister of the Congress-led national government.

But his appetite for India’s turbulent political scene has often been questioned by critics due to his refusal to accept repeated requests to take on ministerial responsibilities.

The next elections could see the allure of the Gandhi name tested by hardline Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi from the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The BJP is yet to name a candidate to take on the Congress-led alliance but clamour is growing for Modi to be pitched for prime ministership after he won key state polls last year for the third time in a row.

 

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