Jaipur: Rahul Gandhi is expected to be given a larger role in the Congress anytime soon, party leaders indicated on Saturday amid growing clamour for declaring him as the Prime Ministerial candidate of the party.

READ MORE:  Clamour for Rahul as PM candidate grows

Cong’s worry is to project Rahul: BJP

At the end of the 'chintan Shivir' (brainstorming conclave), several Union Ministers, Chief Ministers and party leaders felt that an announcement about Rahul's new role could be out even as early as by Sunday.
    
Talk is that Rahul, now a General Secretary, could be made the Working President or Secretary General so that he gets a higher profile for projection in the next Lok Sabha elections.

"Wait till Sunday", was the cryptic response of Union Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia when asked about a formal promotion to the young leader who is already number two in the party. "He is a mature leader and has been taking major decisions informally".
    
"We have been expecting it for long. It should have happened earlier", said Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan when asked whether Rahul was likely to be made Working President of the party on Sunday.
    
Insisting that the party needed to have a young leader to connect with the youth, he said that youth constituency is very important at a time when the majority of the population is below 45.
    
"For connecting with the youth, you have to speak a different language which is not possible for the people of previous generation", he said.
 
"He should be made our role model", remarked CWC member Jagmeet Brar saying that it was high time the party gave up its "wavering" and declare Rahul as "the Leader who will lead us in the battle for the LokSabha polls".
         
Union Minister Rajiv Shukla said "we hope a decision will be taken keeping in mind the sentiments expressed.
"There has been demand for entrusting Rahul with a bigger responsibility of leading the party the 2014 polls. Beyond this any decision has to be taken by Congress President Sonia Gandhi".
         
He was asked whether Rahul will be made the PM candidate.
         
"We want him to play a far bigger role in 2014 elections. Youth have been the focus in this Shivir", said Union Minister Jitin Prasada. "Rahul is the asset of the party", remarked party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury.
         
Congress General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi parried answers to questions on Rahul but said the party has always looked after aspirations of the youth.
         
"A decision is on the cards on expected lines", said another party General Secretary B K Hari Prasad.
         
AICC General Secretary Digvijay Singh has already said that the sentiment among partymen was for giving "larger and predominant" role to Rahul.
         
Union Minister Vayalar Ravi and senior leader Manishankar Aiyar also batted for bigger responsibility for Rahul as the party recognised the need to respond to the demands of a "new changing India peopled by a more younger" generation.
         
Young leader Milind Deora said that it is a consensus of the shivir that youth should be empowered. Maharashtra Chief Minister Chavan dismissed suggestions that a larger role for Rahul will create two power centres in the party and relegate Sonia Gandhi.

Challenges from Narendra Modi

As the party debated its future course of action and its strategy to come to power in 2014 general elections and reviving the party's fortunes in states, the leaders recognised the challenge being posed from BJP's Narendra Modi.
    
Aiyar, however, felt that Modi's projection will work to the advantage of Congress.
    
"As far as BJP is concerned, there is infighting in BJP. They cannot hold such Chintan Shivir because they are the puppets of RSS," he charged.
    
Holding that the Gujarat Chief Minister is "against people", he said if Modi is the leader of Opposition, "it will make ways clear and easy for us".

Shukla claimed there is a lot of infighting in BJP. "There are several leaders in the BJP such as Narendra Modi, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi and L K Advani but the Congress is quite clear on its leadership," he said.
    
Deora said, "The government is doing a good job but still there is a need to improve communication with our people and youths and we are here to discuss all these things."
    
Women empowerment

Girija Vyas, who heads the sub-group on Women Empowerment, said since it is related to women protection, it is necessary to sensitize our police personnel on this issue.
    
"Important things for women empowerment are strict law, sensitisation of police, response of civil society and awareness programmes and campaign. Policemen should be sensitised so that they can rightly use laws for women protection.
    
"There should be a provision in budgetary allocation for running awareness activities and campaigns properly and at wide level," she said.

Vyas also said that the deliberation on Friday was very good. "The address of Congress president was very impressive. She gave a message that the work to empower women should start from home. There is a need to change mindset of people in civil society to ensure that no victim is overlooked by them when they need help," she said.

(Agencies)

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