New Delhi, Oct. 30: A mega rally the Congress has planned on November 4 in support of foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail could turn into a coronation ceremony for Rahul Gandhi, expected to be formally appointed No. 2 in the party on Friday.
Although an AICC meeting will be called later as part of the campaign to project Rahul’s leadership, the ambitious Delhi rally just two days after his ascent is bound to be dedicated to him.
Party leaders were, however, not willing to discuss this because the formal announcement on Rahul’s appointment has yet to come.
Party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said today: “I am not aware of a definite date and time. Something is due. It may happen when it is ready. Rahul Gandhi is No. 2 in the party. His place is after the Congress president. It is not a hidden fact. There is no ambiguity about it. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said that he (Rahul) is the future leader. There is no shying away from it.”
The Congress leadership appears to have chosen the post of secretary-general for Rahul rather than working president or vice-president.
Sources said it was a delicate choice because a message has to be sent to party workers that Rahul would be the functional head, but without undermining Sonia’s supremacy. The Congress constitution does not have the concept of a No. 2.
Working presidents are usually appointed for a short period, especially when the president is inaccessible for some time or ill, which is not the case with Sonia. Several states have had working presidents. In New Delhi, Kamlapati Tripathi had been appointed working president when Rajiv Gandhi was both Prime Minister and Congress president and could not devote enough time to the party.
A vice-president would not have all general secretaries reporting to him, but that is exactly the purpose of Rahul’s elevation. The late Arjun Singh and Jitendra Prasada had both served as vice-presidents for some time.
Although the secretary-general’s post is not common, H.N. Bahuguna was given this role for a brief period.