Thursday 21 May 2015

Chorus grows to anoint Rahul Gandhi party president

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New Delhi: Two senior Congress leaders, Kamal Nath and Amarinder Singh, the Punjab Chief Minister-designate, have said it is time Rahul Gandhi is formally anointed Congress president.

"He (Rahul Gandhi) is the Vice President functioning as President. I don't see why he shouldn't be elevated as President," Kamal Nath said in an interview with Times Now channel aired on Tuesday.

Although Nath conceded that the Gandhi scion was no match for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in terms of political experience, he said Rahul was "smart enough and shrewd enough" to understand the changing dynamics of India's politics.

"Rahul Gandhi is smart enough, he is intelligent, he is shrewd enough to reflect on what is happening," he added.

Amarinder Singh, who on Tuesday met Rahul Gandhi here, told reporters after the meeting: "Now is the right time to elevate Rahul Gandhi as party President. I have been maintaining this for the past one year."

Amarinder made the remark after he called on Rahul Gandhi at the Congress Vice President's residence in New Delhi to congratulate him on the Congress victory in the February 4 Punjab assembly polls, where it bagged 77 of the 117 seats.

Kamal Nath, speaking on Rahul Gandhi's political experience vis-a-vis Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said: "Of course, Narendra Modi being Prime Minister is better connected now… he has been in politics for 40-45 years. On the other hand, Rahul Gandhi has been running the party for just one and a half years."

He said that although Rahul has been an MP for more than 10 years now but "being an MP does not necessarily mean you are running a party".

Defending Rahul in the wake of the Congress drubbing in the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand assembly elections, Nath said that "keeping aside Uttar Pradesh", the Congress has done reasonably well.

"If you keep aside Uttar Pradesh, we have emerged number one party in Punjab, in Goa and in Manipur," he said.

Nath, a nine-time Lok Sabha MP from Chindwara in Madhya Pradesh, said that the management of electoral politics has "undergone a great change" and that the Congress must realise this fact.

"The management of electoral politics has undergone a serious change, a great change. You will have to accept it. First accept it and then work accordingly…adapt to this change and move ahead," he said.

On the question of Prashant Kishor — considered the master strategist for the Congress for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections – Nath said he was just an advisor.

"Prashant Kishor was just an advisor; he was not executive… He was not a party insider. He had a lot of ideas but not all of his ideas were necessarily accepted," he told the news channel.