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Jan 20, 2013 at 07:50am IST

Congress remains cautious even as leaders pitch for Rahul Gandhi as PM

New Delhi: On the second day of the Congress's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur, the clamour to make Rahul Gandhi the party's prime ministerial candidate only grew louder, with party strongman Sanjay Nirupam even announcing 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. 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."

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.

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 perhaps summed the mood when he said, "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."

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