Stage set for Rahul Gandhi's elevation as party president?

India's Nehru-Gandhi scion Rahul Gandhi is likely to be elevated as chief of the country's main opposition Congress party on December 4, sources said.

During the course of the meeting, the CWC approved the election schedule for the post of the president which mentions 4 December as the last date for filing nominations. While Rahul's appointment is a given, the decision that the CWC needs to arrive at is whether to announce it now or after the results of the Assembly elections in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh are declared. Refuting Gandhi's charge, Jaitley said Parliament sessions were often rescheduled to ensure they did not overlap with elections (Gujarat polls will take place next month).

However, it is clear now that Rahul Gandhi will be Congress president before the Gujarat elections. Rahul's reluctance to lead the party from the front was also seen as a reason for the delay in his coronation. But when Congress was in federal power, he refused any role in government and preferred to stay on the fringes until 2013, when he took over as party vice-president.

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The Congress had earlier set a deadline to complete the organisational elections by October-end. Is Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi's son the right candidate for the Congress to pit against the charismatic Narendra Modi? For a long time, Rahul Gandhi was said to be reluctant about assuming the reins of the party, and it was only at an interaction with students and faculty of the University of California, Berkeley, in the USA in September this year that he said he was ready for the job.

Yet Mr Gandhi faces many challenges in reviving Congress as it has been struggling since a massive defeat in the 2014 General Election and Mr Modi continues to be popular.

In fact, the Congress in its first list of 77 also named candidates for seats which were demanded by the NCP. Sources had informed that the Congress was not very keen on having an alliance with NCP after the latter "back-stabbed" the party during Ahmed Patel's Rajya Sabha election. "The Modi-government in its arrogance has cast a dark shadow on India' Parliamentary democracy by sabotaging the winter session of Parliament on flimsy grounds", Gandhi said at the CWC meeting.


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