Jaipur: Congress party general secretary Rahul Gandhi should be the party’s prime ministerial candidate for the 2014 general elections: That was the message sent out by several party leaders during the three-day brainstorming session of the Congress party at Jaipur.
The clamour for a larger responsibility for Rahul Gandhi grew louder on Saturday, with many party leaders including Jyotiraditya Scindia, Rajiv Shukla, Jitin Prasada and Manishankar Aiyar saying the party recognises the need to respond to the demands of a new changing India peopled by a more younger generation.
Congress leader Milind Deora said, “The consensus is that youths should be empowered”. Other party leaders including Raj Babbar and Avtar Singh Badhana have demanded that Rahul Gandhi be declared the prime ministerial candidate before the announcement of the next Lok Sabha polls.
“Rahul will lead the party during 2014 general elections and would be the prime ministerial candidate,” party leader Sanjay Nirupam said on Friday.
Jitin Prasada, the Congress leader from Uttar Pradesh, said, “Things are being discussed as to how we can ensure participation of the youth. Rahul is certainly our leader and he will lead 2014 general elections of Congress and the country as well.”
Union minister Veeprappa Moily said, “Rahul is already a leader. We have stable leaders; we are proud of them. Congress has always enjoyed great leadership. If there is any disconnect, we are discussing these concerns and will ensure that there is proper connect.” About the demand for a larger role for Rahul, Union minister Rajiv Shukla said, “It is to be decided by Sonia and Rahul, we can only demand and we are demanding.”
Party leader Manishankar Aiyar said the entire party is with Rahul Gandhi, who has to take the decision to take on a larger responsibility in the party. “For us, the priority is to empower people and discussions are being held,” he said.
Party leaders said they were aware of the challenge posed by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. Aiyar, however, said Modi’s projection will work to the advantage of Congress. “As far as the BJP is concerned, there is infighting in the BJP. They cannot hold such Chintan Shivirs because they are the puppets of RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh, the ideological parent of the BJP),” he said.
Shukla claimed there is a lot of infighting in BJP. “There are several leaders — Narendra Modi, Nitin Gadkari, Sushma Swaraj, Murli Manohar Joshi and L. K. Advani — in the BJP, but the Congress is quite clear on its leadership,” he said.
Deora said, “The government is doing a good job but there is still a need to improve communication with our people and the youth and we are here to discuss all these.”
Girija Vyas, who heads the sub-group on women empowerment, said since women empowerment is related to women protection, it is necessary to sensitise our police personnel on this issue. “Important things for women empowerment are strict laws, sensitisation of police, response of civil society and awareness programmes and campaigns. “There should be provision in budget allocation for running awareness activities and campaigns properly and at wide level,” she said.
“The address of the Congress president Sonia Gandhi (on Friday) was very impressive. She gave a message that the work to empower women should start from home. There is a need to change the mindset of people in civil society to ensure that no victim is overlooked by them when they need help,” she said.