Signaling a major “generational shift,” the Congress appointed Rahul Gandhi as the Vice-President of the party on Saturday.
In his new role, vetted by the Congress Working Committee, he will have a larger say in the decision-making process of the party and the Government.
At the CWC meeting, Defence Minister A.K. Antony proposed that Rahul Gandhi be made the party Vice-President. The Nehru scion was ready to accept it and the top leadership approved the suggestion in one voice.
Janardan Dwivedi, party’s chief spokesperson, said the decision will strengthen the Congress and its President Sonia Gandhi.
The third Chintan Shivir, chaired by Sonia Gandhi is now seen as the step after a long gap to give the young generation a larger role in the party and the Government.
Unlike the first two shivirs — one at Pachmarhi in 1999 and the second at Shimla in 2003 — where the party focused on organisational issues and political alliances, the Jaipur meet was focused on Rahul Gandhi.
The Rajasthan capital is decked up with hoardings and banners carrying pictures of Rahul Gandhi. Meanwhile, the group on organisational challenges will also recommend that at least 30 per cent of the posts in party and the government should be reserved for young leaders. However, there is lack of clarity on how the party is going to handle the number of vested interests and groups in the party. During her inaugural address, Sonia Gandhi had asked partymen to set aside personal issues and egos and work for the party.
In an apparent indication of what he is up to, Rahul Gandhi told the committee on socio-economic challenges that the party has to focus more on Dalits, Adivasis and minorities. He told the group, consisting of about 70 members, that it has just two tribal, four Dalit and three minority members. He is said to have told the panel that rather than taking an academic approach, the party should help people from weaker sections become active in the political process.
About 165 activists of the Youth Congress and the National Students Union, who got special invitations to attend the brainstorming session, were visibly happy to have got an opportunity to air their views. A young MLA from Kerala, P. C. Vishnunath, said the leadership, including Sonia Gandhi, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, and Rahul Gandhi himself, heard their suggestions to improve the socio-economic situation.