New Delhi: Rahul Gandhi on Thursday broke his silence on the growing clamour for a greater role in the party and government announcing that he was ready for it with a caveat that it was for the leadership to decide on the timing.

"I will play a more proactive role in the party and the government. The decision has been taken, the timing is upto my two bosses -- the Congress President and the Prime Minister," Rahul said.

His comments come a day after Congress President Sonia Gandhi had said that it was for Rahul to decide for himself on playing a larger role in the party.

Rahul's remarks after casting his vote in the President's election this morning set off a fresh round of appeals and comments with AICC General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi expressing his happiness over his statement.

"We will be very happy if Shri Rahul Gandhi takes on some more responsibility and it will be a very welcome step. What responsibility, whether in the government or the party and when, it is upto the party leadership and Rahulji to decide," Dwivedi said in a statement.

Other senior leaders and ministers including Digvijay Singh, M Veerappa Moily and V Kishore Chandra Deo also hailed Rahul's announcement saying the party and the government needed enthusiastic and passionate participation of the youth leader.

Last week, Law Minister Salman Khurshid created ripples when he said the Congress had only seen cameos of Rahul like his campaign in Uttar Pradesh and needed his focused attention to give it guidance. Digvijay Singh has been demanding that Rahul play a greater role in the party.

Dwivedi said Rahul's announcement today should be seen as a supplementary to what the Congress President has said on Wednesday.

"It is very clear. I don't think it needs any further comment. After the role of the Congress president, Rahul's role is important," he said.

Digvijay Singh said that there has been all-round demand from the Congress that Rahul should shoulder greater responsibility in the party.

"He (Rahul) is correct in saying that it was for the party to decide on the timing," he said.

Singh said Rahul has to decide on whether he wants to play a greater role in the party or the government.

"I am very happy to note that he has agreed to play a more proactive role," Singh said.

Corporate Affairs Minister M Veerappa Moily said this was a time for the enthusiastic and passionate youth leader to take a greater role not only in politics but also in the governance of the country.

"He (Gandhi) needs to do that. This is a time when we require the enthusiastic and passionate youth leader to take a greater role not only in politics but also governance of this country," Moily said.

Moily pointed out that Congress President Sonia Gandhi has already made it clear that it was for Rahul to take the appropriate step.

"He has been there. He has the capacity, he has reached the youth of the country and taken positive actions in the Youth Congress and he is set to occupy a higher role," said Moily, a former Karnataka chief minister.

Tribal Affairs Minister V Kishore Chandra Deo said Rahul's larger role in the party will "definitely" help the organisation.

"If Rahul Gandhi decides so, it is certainly a welcome move and it will definitely help the party," Deo said.

Union Minister and National Conference leader Farooq Abdullah said it was necessary for Rahul to shoulder greater responsibility.

"India needs the services of its youth. We have done our bit and are still doing it," Abdullah said.

However, Abdullah said it was upto Gandhi to decide when to take such a step and he cannot force him.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal said he welcomes any decision Congress President Sonia Gandhi or Rahul Gandhi takes (about the latter taking a greater role in the party or joining the government).

"Rahul Gandhi is capable of handling anything or any job very effectively," Bansal said.

Senior leader of Samajwadi Party Mohan Singh said Rahul Gandhi should play a bigger role as "UPA lacks leadership".

"His role will also help India find out his leadership qualities," Singh said, whose party has bailed out the Congress-led UPA government on many troubled occassions.

(Agencies)

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