Congress leaders want Rahul to assume PM's mantle
New Delhi: As Rahul Gandhi turns 41 Sunday, voices in the Congress are rising, touting the young leader as fitting the bill to become the next prime minister. But party leaders said Gandhi alone would decide whether or not he wants the country's top executive post.
While Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh has said that the MP from Amethi had all the qualities and capability to become a "good prime minister", another party leader, Birender Singh, said Gandhi would fit in the role whenever the situation so demands.
Digvijay Singh, who is in charge of Uttar Pradesh, is closely working with Gandhi to bring the party back to power in the country's most populous state in next year's assembly elections.
Digvijay Singh, who has openly aired differences with some decisions of senior ministers, added that Gandhi was mature with a sound understanding of social and political issues — and had qualities of the head and heart.
Many other leaders echoed Digvijay Singh's feelings.
Congress general secretary Birender Singh said that Gandhi, son of party president Sonia Gandhi, had all the qualities to be the prime minister.
"The party is behind him. He has to take his own decision," Birender Singh said.
Congress leader Shakeel Ahmad said that most partymen had the feeling that Gandhi was capable of becoming a good leader.
"Congressmen feel he has the capability of being a good leader of the country. We feel he has the qualities of becoming prime minister," said Ahmad, the party in-charge of West Bengal and Jharkhand.
Congress treasurer Motilal Vora said: "He [Gandhi] has the capability to take the country on the path of development. He is a visionary."
Vora added that the young leader had made it clear that his focus for the present was on strengthening the party organisation. Gandhi is party in-charge of the Youth Congress and National Students Union of India.
Congress secretary Asha Kumari said Gandhi had worked in rural areas, taken part in the decision-making process and had more political experience than his father Rajiv Gandhi, who became the country's youngest prime minister (1984).
"He [Gandhi] has worked with the system and learnt a lot. The cadre would have liked it [his becoming prime minister] even seven years ago," she said, adding that the party leader will decide when to take the post.
Party sources said that renewed talk about Gandhi's suitability to become prime minister has also been driven by a feeling in sections of the party that the second tenure of the UPA government has been marked by a string of controversies.
"Partymen mention that the government has mishandled situations, including the agitations by Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev. There have been scams and controversies," a party leader said on the condition of anonymity.
He said partymen have begun talking about the need to give a younger look to the government and the possibility of anointing Gandhi as prime minister about a year before the 2014 general elections.
Former union minister Arjun Singh had raised his voice before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls for making Gandhi a prime ministerial candidate, but it was scotched by the party leadership.