New Delhi: Even as senior Congress leaders on Friday sought to dismiss rumours about the possibility of Rahul Gandhi being made the party's Prime Ministerial candidate, Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor sparked fresh debate on Saturday with a statement. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Tharoor said, "We will be in very capable hands if Rahul Gandhi takes over."
Reacting quickly, 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.
Speaking on the issue, West Bengal Congress leader Deepa Dasmunshi and Minister of State, Power, Jyotiraditya 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," said Scindia, responding to questions about the Congress being worried about a possible Rahul-Modi face-off in 2014. Dasmunsi added that Rahul was already at the forefront of the party.
On Day One of the Chintan Shivir on Friday, Rahul Gandhi occupied the centrestage as a majority of the party members said he should be named as the Prime Ministerial candidate. Seniors within the party, however, played it down.
Union Minister Kapil Sibal said that the party was yet to decide on the PM candidate, but added, "The Congress needs to assert itself ideologically. We will speak of Rahul Gandhi's role when we're ready. When party and Rahul are ready, we will let you know."