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Nov 16, 2012 at 12:39pm IST

Rahul Gandhi at the helm of Lok Sabha poll campaign: Congress taking a risk?

New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi will be the face of the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. He will head the co-ordination committee to strategise for 2014. Congress has also begun preparations for the possibility of an early election. It's clear that the party is waiting for the right time to call an early election. It's also clear that the the elections will be fought with Rahul Gandhi as the mascot.

Over the past few months, Rahul's growing stature within the party and even the government has been becoming apparent. In the recent reshuffle, Rahul played a key role in deciding portfolios of the young ministers and also in choosing some of them.

ALSO SEE Congress kicks off 2014 polls preparations, Rahul Gandhi to head party's campaign

Congress seems to be taking a huge risk by making Rahul the mascot for the next polls given that he was criticised for the Uttar Pradesh debacle. The Congress is also at a low when facing the polls with a double anti-incumbency to deal with. Rising prices, unpopular decisions like the cap on LPG and fuel hike has put the party in a precarious position.

"Congress has been taking anti-people decisions against the betterment of our country. This has lead to the economic crisis in our country," BJP leaders Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.

The Congress's game plan is to do a repeat of 2009 and come out with a winning formula like the farm loan waiver. It is banking on a people friendly budget by Finance Minister P Chidambaram in 2013. If Congress does well in important state polls like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Delhi, the possibility of an early poll looms large.

Congress has also set up several committees like one for deciding poll alliances, one on publicity and another on framing the manifesto. What's clear then is that Dr Manmohan Singh is unlikely to be the next Prime Ministerial face of the Congress. Rahul's time has begun, but it's also a huge risk the party is taking.