Rahul Gandhi says no to marriage and prime ministership

Amid a raging debate on the Congress party's prime ministerial candidate in the next Lok Sabha elections, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi Tuesday said that it is a "wrong question" to ask him as his priority now was to strengthen the organisation.

"Asking me whether you want to be prime minister is a wrong question," he said while talking to reporters and party MPs in the Central Hall of Parliament. Hours later, Congress spokesman Rashid Alvi sought to clarify those remarks saying Rahul was "not after any post".

Rahul, who has been speaking against the "high command" culture in his party, Tuesday attributed it to the "severe assault" on his grandmother Indira Gandhi in the 1970s from "destabilising forces" within her party. "It may have triggered the high command culture. I knew her and if I would have been in her place, I would have also done likewise," he said.

"Today, I see how MPs feel without power and it is the same story in all the parties, be it the Congress or the BJP. I want to empower the 720-odd MPs in Parliament. I want to give voice to the middle tier, empower the middle-level leaders. There are some parties in India which are run by one leader, two leaders, five to six leaders and 15 to 20 leaders. My priority is that I want to empower the MPs as also the 5,000-odd legislators in various states," he said.

The young Congress leader, who has been forthright about owing his present position to his family, said he could take a holistic view of party politics because "I am a parachute".

He also indicated that he had no immediate plans of marriage as he wants to focus on strengthening the organisation. Seeking to buttress his argument about the need for "detachment" from power, Rahul said, "I feel we should all be detached from power. Only then we can contribute to the society better. You people ask me about my marriage plans. Sometimes, I think, if I marry and have children, I would want my children to take my position. Sometimes, I feel that status quo is better."

Congress MPs present on the occasion clarified that his remarks about marriage and children were in the context of his broader views about "attachment and detachment" regarding positions and power as he wanted to focus on building the organisation.

Rahul lamented that all political parties have been designed in a manner that prevents youth from acquiring key positions at a time when they are seeking a greater say in political affairs. "At one point, the pressure from the youth will be such that there will be an explosion," he said.

When an MP spoke about the change brought about by Barack Obama in American politics, Rahul said that it happened in the US because it is a developed country where systems have evolved. "Obama will not have an effect here," Rahul was said to have observed. He said the ideas of applying a western model in Indian conditions will not work.

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