|Rahul Gandhi at the plenary on Monday. (PTI)
Hyderabad, Jan. 23: The party wants Rahul, but Rahul wants to be among the people.
Rahul Gandhi today announced that he would earn ' rather than inherit ' a leadership position in the Congress, a day after the clamour at the plenary here for him to be taken into the party’s highest body.
“There is no fast track to success.... Leadership has to be built slowly brick by brick,” he said at the plenary.
“By taking up a job before I know what our workers and people feel, I would be doing a disservice to both my religion, that is the Indian flag, and my party.”
The script is unfolding not perhaps the way the unwitting participants in the plenary might have wished when they shouted “Rahul lao, desh bachao”, but in the manner Sonia Gandhi wants it to.
That script possibly runs thus: the party will keep asking for Rahul to be anointed a clear successor with a post which befits the stature and Sonia ' and, of course, Rahul ' will choose the time when this is to be done.
As his mother spurned the Prime Minister’s post in May 2004, Rahul made it clear that this was not the right time.
“We must move away from the corridors of power and build direct links with people. A leader is made by listening, learning and working,” he said.
Making his debut speech at the Congress plenary, he suggested that he would work in the villages, galis and mohallas of Uttar Pradesh which sent him to the Lok Sabha.
The BJP called the plenary a “show of sycophancy”.
“It (the plenary) just centred around the speech by Rahul Gandhi, who has never spoken in Parliament for more than half a minute on key issues,” BJP spokesman V.K. Malhotra said.
Before the plenary it was thought that in the recent round of changes in the Congress Working Committee, the party’s highest body, Sonia had left five places vacant for Rahul to fill one of them after the expected clamour at the plenary.
This reading of the situation has been proved wrong. The other view was that Rahul would be taken into the Manmohan Singh ministry. After today’s speech, that too seems a remote possibility in the near future.
Rahul said: “We have a large number of true grassroots leaders and ‘netas’. You have to make a distinction between the two. True leadership is built brick by brick, on hard work. There is no fast track.”
Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi tried to assuage the restive crowd once Rahul had announced his intentions.
“Your sentiments will be respected. Some step will be taken,” Dwivedi told the gathering.
Congress sources refused to put a timeline on when Rahul will be inducted into the organisation, saying: “It is up to him and Sonia Gandhi.”
The Congress president indicated that her son would have to sweat it out for a while.
Speaking about the party’s young leaders, Sonia said: “It is important that they should not expect to reap the rewards of public office immediately on being elected, but instead invest their time and resources to build the party. Their diligence will certainly be recognised.”