The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sonia basks as Congmen wake up to Rahul

New Delhi, Nov. 13: Sonia Gandhi is a proud mom these days.

Congress workers have finally begun equating son Rahul with her more politically active daughter and demanding his induction into the party with the same degree of fervour with which they had sought Priyanka’s services.

Sonia is happy that “parity” between her daughter and son has been restored. In private, she used to often lament why Congressmen kept talking about Priyanka while nobody bothered about Rahul. On her part, the Congress chief had made it a point to include Rahul’s name whenever she was asked about a political role for her daughter.

Last Saturday at Mount Abu, when Sonia was asked about Rahul, she was delighted to respond to the query but did not forget to include her daughter’s name while iterating her stand. Asked if she would rope in Rahul and Priyanka, Sonia said the Nehru-Gandhis were capable of taking independent decisions. “My grown-up children will decide about themselves whenever they want to.”

Congress sources were quick to interpret her remark as a sign of the “inevitability” of a political role for Rahul and Priyanka. “It is just a matter of time when they will enter politics. My guess is sometime closer to the next round of general elections,” said a senior leader from Uttar Pradesh, pointing out that the siblings could play a crucial role in the state.

“It is our blind spot and going by current indications, we are next to nothing in Uttar Pradesh. But things can change if any one of them makes a debut…. It would be a real turning point,” he added, conceding that the state unit’s problem was lack of leadership.

The spotlight on Rahul, who has started a computer consultancy while residing at 10 Janpath, is not without basis.

For Congressmen, the 32-year-old bachelor is the right choice. Unlike his sister, he does not have to attend to two children and a mother-in-law who is in close touch with Priyanka and Robert Vadra. The other members of the Vadra family, particularly the senior Vadra and Robert’s brother Richard, have fallen out with the Nehru-Gandhi family.

Many see Rahul as the “man” in the family and say his presence will be a greater source of strength to his mother and sister. In fact, if a survey is conducted among Congressmen, nearly every one would like to see both Rahul and Priyanka in a political role.

Sonia is currently sitting over a Congress Sewa Dal resolution, adopted in Belgaum in Karnataka, requesting “Rahulji” to take over as “adviser” to the Sewa Dal board.

The post is generally reserved for the AICC chief but if “Madam is willing”, Rahul could be drafted into the Dal, which is fighting a grim battle to maintain its identify.

Like the Youth Congress, the Sewa Dal has become a dumping group of all those who cannot be accommodated in the main body.

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