New Delhi, Feb. 28: Rahul Gandhi will stay off Congress election posters, which will feature Sonia Gandhi and Manmohan Singh.
Sources said Rahul was unhappy and embarrassed when the early posters released by the party publicity cell displayed either all three, or showcased only Rahul, building him up as the countrys bhavishya (future).
The Amethi MP wondered why he had been described as Indias future despite repeated clarifications that Singh would lead the party to the elections.
The idea behind the bhavishya posters was traced to general secretary Digvijay Singh, who got close to Rahul after becoming the minder for Uttar Pradesh, and junior foreign and I&B minister Anand Sharma. Both are members of the publicity cell.
Now the partys poll managers have decided that Rahul will not feature in any more posters.
Sources said the campaign would focus less on the personalities of Singh and Sonia, anyway, and more on the principles, policies and programmes of the UPA.
The projection of Singh and Sonia is expected to be done with subtlety. The Congress is anxious that its electioneering does not resemble a US presidential campaign, as the BJPs had in 2004 when it made Atal Bihari Vajpayee its centrepiece and challenged the Congress to come up with a matching prime ministerial face.
Its a question of the right projection. A leader should not be under-projected or over-projected, a source said.
Over-projection can put off voters and under-projection confuse them, leaving them wondering whether the person would indeed lead the party and government or whether a dark horse would emerge from the sidelines.
Party sources said the pictures of Sonia and Singh would be used to convey the message that between them, they had ensured the success of the Congresss first-ever coalition government without overstepping their respective mandates and stepping on each others toes.
They claimed that in the Sonia-Manmohan versus L.K. Advani contest, the Congress duo had a clear edge.
Both have proved that leadership is about co-operation, maturity and infusing trust, and not about grandstanding on whos the Loh Purush (Iron Man) and whos the Vikas Purush (Development Man), a source said, alluding to the Advani-Vajpayee ego tussle when the NDA was in power.
Singh appears unlikely to contest the polls since his recovery from heart surgery has been taking longer than expected.
Sources, however, said he would be asked to campaign more extensively this time instead of speaking to intellectuals and opinion-makers in seminar halls.