Rahul Gandhi was made the vice-president of the Congress on Saturday evening, sealing his status as the foremost leader in the party. His mother Sonia Gandhi is the president of the party.
Briefing journalists at around quarter past eight in the evening, the Congress' chief spokesperson Janardan Dwivedi said, "There was a long-standing demand for Rahul Gandhi to be given a formal responsibility in the organisation. It was proposed by A.K. Antony in the meeting of the Congress Working Committee that Rahul Gandhi be made the vice-president. All the members of the CWC supported the proposal by slapping their benches. It was accepted by the Congress president, Sonia Gandhi, and Rahul Gandhi himself." Previously, only Arjun Singh served as the vice-president of the party under Rajiv Gandhi in the 1980s.
According to a top Congress source and a close adviser of the junior Gandhi, "Rahul already has the necessary infrastructure in place (for the purpose)", having "reinvigorated" the Indian Youth Congress and National Students' Union of India and democratised the two organisations by holding elections. "Leaders of the Youth Congress and the National Students' Union of India are present and active in every Assembly segment," the Congress source claimed. He added that the Jawaharlal Nehru Institute was training young leaders as per an initiative of the Congress scion.
On a related note, party sources uniformly contested the possibility of 30% seats being reserved for youngsters in organisational and government posts. Three senior Congress leaders this newspaper spoke to said that no quota had been fixed for youngsters, but their increased participation in organisational and government positions could not be ruled out.
There was a long-standing demand for Rahul Gandhi to be given a formal responsibility in the organisation. A.K. Antony proposed in the CWC meeting that Rahul Gandhi be made vice-president.
Among other important recommendations to be made to the All India Congress Committee for adoption as resolutions are passing the women's reservation bill and the food security bill before the 2014 general elections. "It will be beneficial for us to go into the elections with the food security bill," said a senior Congress leader. Commenting on the women's reservation bill, he added that "it should be brought back (in Lok Sabha)."
He admitted that the party was committed to passing the women's reservation bill. "It has already been passed in Rajya Sabha," he pointed out and accepted that recommendations regarding both the bills have been made to the AICC, which was likely to adopt them as resolutions. However, he added that the AICC was going to decide on the matter on Sunday.
The committee on political affairs, headed by defence minister A.K. Antony, has made certain recommendations. Crucial among them is that the party would continue to go into 2014 general elections as UPA 3, although specific alliances would be formed at the state level and would be discussed later. It is, however, learnt that Congress MP Deepa Dasmunshi from West Bengal spoke against forming alliances. The party is also advised by the Antony led committee not to feel threatened by "one monolithic party", or in other words, the BJP. The threat could come from regional parties, the committee believes. The middle-classes and the urban youth are also likely to be wooed by the party before the 2014 general elections, as per the recommendations of the political affairs committee.
As part of its economic policy, the party would continue with its subsidies regime, which could be structurally tweaked for greater revenue generation.
(With inputs from Nora Chopra)