Rahul may become next prime minister
New Delhi: The Congress party general secretary Rahul Gandhi may become the new prime minister of India early next year.
Sources in the Congress party say that there is a strong possibility of Rahul being promoted as the new prime minister before the crucial legislative assembly election in Uttar Pradesh and half a dozen other states.
There is growing feeling within the party that a change of guard at the top alone can change the sliding fortunes of the party and the federal government which is seen as drifting due to controversies dogging it.
Goa, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Uttarakhand and Manipur are slated to go to polls early next year. There are indications that the autonomous election commission may use its authority to advance Uttar Pradesh elections, due in normal course in July-August, by a few months and club it with those in other states.
Besides for administrative reasons, the Election Commission wants to avoid electioneering in India's most populated state during the heat and rain of July-August. Election Commission is entitled by rules to advance elections in any state by up to six months.
"As of now, we cannot be assured of winning in any other state except Punjab and Manipur, and probably Goa. With Rahul at the helm, things will improve drastically," said a senior central office bearer of the Congress party.
Since both Rahul, and his mother Sonia Gandhi who is the Congress party president, represent Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha, the maximum impact of Rahul taking over as the new prime minister will be felt in Uttar Pradesh.
Incumbent prime minister Manmohan Singh is seen in the party circles as faltering as the government keep landing up from one controversy to the other.
The party has to look for someone else to be projected as the prime ministerial candidate since Singh would be 82 by the time the next general elections get due in 2014.
Rahul's elevation early next year, sources in the party say, will give him ample time to establish his credentials and lead the party in 2014 general elections.
The change of guard, it is pointed out, will also help the party infuse a new sense of enthusiasm among the party workers and activists.
It is also seen as the only way the Congress party can hope to win Uttar Pradesh after a gap of 22 years.
If and when appointed, Rahul Gandhi would become the fourth prime minister from the elite Gandhi-Nehru family after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
Sonia Gandhi had declined to become prime minister after having been invited to form the government in 2004 and instead proposed Manmohan Singh for the post.