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News Analysis: Will Rahul Gandhi help Congress to secure a third term in power in India


08:39, January 21, 2013

Key Words: ruling Congress party; Congress;appointment;icon;Rahul Gandhi;Vice President;

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NEW DELHI, Jan. 20 (Xinhua) -- India's ruling Congress party Saturday officially appointed its youth icon Rahul Gandhi as the outfit's Vice President, a year after the clamor for his elevation began within the party.

But, with his elevation to the party's number two position after his mother Sonia Gandhi, the Congress chief, has the 42-year- old Nehru-Gandhi scion now become the over 100-year-old political outfit's prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections? The answer apparently appears to be "yes" as the Congress is hoping to score a hat-trick in the upcoming parliamentary polls.

Experts believe that officially promoting Gandhi in the party's hierarchy has a three-fold objective -- to boost the morale of the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government hit by a series of scandals in its second five-year term in power; to galvanize party workers after a series of demoralizing electoral setbacks in a number of states.

And, the third and the most important objective behind Gandhi's promotion as party Vice President is to project him as an youth leader who is ready to take on the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)'s potential prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi who recently won a third term in office as the Chief Minister of Gujarat, one of the most developed states in western India.

"The Congress knows that it would be really difficult to gain the public confidence, given the telecom scam, Commonwealth Games scandal and the coal scam. The party is left with no other option but to project Gandhi as its prime ministerial candidate for the upcoming general elections with the hope that an youth face may help to win votes," said Delhi-based political analyst Prof Ajay Singh.

Indeed the soft-spoken Manmohan Singh has not been able to defend his government adequately after the scams were exposed one by one. Though an honest leader himself, critics believe that he has failed to deliver when it came to tackling corruption, of course, inflation also.

"The Congress party in the recent past has suffered defeat in assembly polls in some states, which has demoralized the workers who now want a leadership change. They hope that an youth leader like Gandhi may be able to use his charisma to help the party rejig in the 2014 general elections," said Prof S.K. Gupta, another political expert.

But experts agree that Gandhi's charisma may not work in the upcoming general elections, given the fact that his magic failed to help the Congress win in the assembly elections in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh which sends the maximum number of members to the Indian Parliament. Congress even lost some of the seats in Uttar Pradesh assembly which they had won earlier.

Gandhi had personally taken the blame for the failure of the party to do well in the state now ruled by the regional Samajwadi Party led by its youth Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.

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