Cong names Rahul No. 2, stops short of giving poll leadership

FP

After months of clamour by Congressmen to give him a larger responsibility in the party, Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi was Saturday appointed vice-president, formally naming him the number two.

The decision was taken at the Congress Working Committee meeting held at the end of the party's two-day chintan shivir in the Pink City.

As the CWC met to consider the shivir's draft resolutions to be adopted at the AICC session Sunday, Defence Minister A K Antony got up to say how there were consistent and growing demands from party workers for Rahul to play a bigger role in the party. "I, therefore, propose that Rahul Gandhi be appointed as vice-president of the Congress," Antony said, moving the resolution.

Almost on cue, general secretary Janardan Dwivedi got up to second the proposal saying, "Madam, we have been listening to and obeying you all this while. This time you must listen to us." All CWC members thumped desks to support the proposal.

"I am in agreement with you. I accept," Congress president Sonia Gandhi said in response as the desk-thumping continued.

Accepting the decision, 42-year-old Rahul thanked everyone and recalled how he had been associated with the party for the last nine years. "I am honoured. I will try to work for the party to the best of my ability," he said, expressing confidence that he along with others will transform the party.

Minutes later, Dwivedi informed the media about the CWC resolution appointing Rahul vice-president. He said Rahul is now number two in the part". "This decision will greatly strengthen the party and hands of the party preside"t," Dwivedi said.

As vice-president, Rahul is now formally the second-in-command in the party. But as past experiences have shown - when Rajiv Gandhi had appointed Arjun Singh vice-president and Sitaram Kesri appointed Jitendra Prasada to the post - Ra'ul's elevation may not translate into much in terms of the beginning of the succession process in the party as a vice-president does not have any direct responsibility or power.

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