Rahul puts old guard on notice: ‘next govt of the poor and young’

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Rahul Gandhi predicted on Wednesday that India's next government would be a "government of the youth". The declaration, made at a public rally in Rampur, came about a week after the Congress vice-president forced the Manmohan Singh government to withdraw the ordinance to shield convicted lawmakers by rejecting it as "complete nonsense".

"The 2014 elections are coming. Once again, a government of the common man and the poor will be formed. Listen to me carefully. 2014 mein yuvaon ki sarkar banegi jo is desh ko badal dalegi (A government of the youth will be formed in 2014, which will transform this country)," Rahul said.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said last month that he would be "very happy to work for the Congress party under the leadership of Rahul Gandhi". "I have always maintained that Rahul Gandhi would be an ideal choice for the Prime Minister's position after the 2014 election," Singh had said.

Should the Congress indeed form a "government of the youth" next year, many prominent faces of the present council of ministers will presumably not find a place.

The PM is 81, Labour Minister Sis Ram Ola is 86, and as many as 41 members of the ministry are between the ages of 60 and 79. Only four ministers are 40 or younger.

The Congress line on not announcing a prime ministerial candidate before elections notwithstanding, party sources said there is a clear plan to project Rahul through a series of public meetings that he will address across the country in the run-up to the polls. He spoke in Aligarh and Rampur on Wednesday.

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said on Wednesday that Rahul might lead the next government.

"He has become a vice-president of the party, he is 24X7... involved in everything, he is calling the shots, he is giving his time, he is campaigning tirelessly, I think what we had desired and hoped, has happened... One day, he will graduate from vice-president to president or to a position in the government, he may lead us in the government. I think it was a desire that I had expressed, a desire lot of people had... once again, lot of people in the media read some strange things," Khurshid told The Indian Express.

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