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Jan 19, 2013 at 08:06pm IST

Congress leaders want Rahul Gandhi as PM candidate, party yet to decide

Jaipur: Decision on Congress scion Rahul Gandhi's leadership role has been deferred sources said on Saturday. The Congress is discussing other issues confronting the party at the moment added sources even as the clamour to make Rahul the party's prime ministerial candidate only grew louder on the second and final day of the Congress's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur. Party strongman Sanjay Nirupam even announced that Rahul would lead the party in 2014 and be the party's PM candidate.

However, the response from the senior leaders has been low key on Saturday. Party spokesman Digvijaya Singh said that Rahul should not be pressurised. "The Congress never announces its PM candidate. So let's not get into this. Let Rahul chalk his own course. Don't pressurise him," he said. Mani Shankar Aiyar said that Rahul himself had to decide on the issue. "If he decides to take the role, the party will welcome his decision."

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Most Congress leaders have demanded a stronger role for Rahul within the party and the government. MoS for HRD Shashi Tharoor said on Saturday, "We would be in very capable hands if Rahul Gandhi takes over." Milind Deora, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Deepa Dasmunsi and Ambika Soni seconded him.

Cong leaders want Rahul as PM candidate, party yet to decide

Sources said that the Congress is discussing other issues confronting the party at the moment at the two-day Chintan Shivir.

Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot had said before the Congress Working Committee meeting started that the demand (for Rahul being projected as Congress' PM candidate) has been there for a long time. "Even the Prime Minister has said this on many occasions. The opinion of all the members in the last two days of Chintan Shivir will be taken into account in the CWC meet and a decision will be taken," said Gehlot.

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Scindia said that Rahul was already "the face of the party". "Rahul is already the face of the party. He doesn't have to be there, his views have to be. The youth identify with him and so we are not worried," he said, responding to questions about the Congress perhaps being worried about a possible Rahul-Modi face-off in 2014. Dasmunsi added that Rahul was already at the forefront of the party.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi summed the mood by saying, "Irrespective of formal name or position, Rahul is our leader. And I have no doubt that not only in 2014, but in every which way, he's going to show us the path."