New Delhi: The clamour within the Congress to name Rahul Gandhi as the party's Prime Ministerial candidate refuses to die down. On Saturday, on Day Two of the Congress's Chintan Shivir in Jaipur, party leader Sanjay Nirupam put it straight. He said clearly, "Rahul Gandhi is our prime ministerial candidate for 2014."
The remark came despite rebuttals and constant denials by the senior party leaders that Rahul would be named as the party's PM candidate for 2014.
On Saturday, another young politician joined the 'Make Rahul PM candidate' chorus. MoS for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor said, "We will be in very capable hands if Rahul Gandhi takes over."
Party leaders, however, were again quick to deny this. Party spokesperson Digvijaya Singh said that Rahul should not "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.
Veerappa Moily said, "Rahul Gandhi is already a leader. He is our leader of the present and also of the future."
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."
The Chintan Shivir is being held even as the Congress faces serious threat from BJP strongman and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi who won a resounding victory in the assembly elections in the state in December 2012. The Congress has also faced much flak over its seeming unresponsiveness over critical issues.
UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi touched upon key problems facing the party on Day One of the Shivir. She exhorted the party members to be proactive, to be in touch with the new India, that was "younger, more demanding and less tolerant". She asked the leaders to curb their display of wealth and strike a balance between their alliances and policies.