I am ready for any role Congress gives me, Rahul Gandhi says

Rahul Gandhi has said he is ready to take any responsibility given to him by the Congress leadership, refueling speculation that he might be anointed the party’s PM candidate at the AICC session in Delhi recently.

“There is no word called reluctance in my life,” he said in an interview to a Hindi daily when asked whether he was wary of accepting responsibilities.

“People of India will decide through their elected representatives who will be the PM of the country. In national interest, it is a must that Congress returns to power. And to fulfill that objective, I will discharge with full dedication every responsibility that the party has given to me or will give me in the future,” he further said.

He also clarified that his earlier comment, quoting Sonia Gandhi, that power was like poison did not connote an aversion to power, emphasizing that what he meant to say was that power should be used for the betterment of others, not for self-aggrandizement.

Rahul did evade a direct response to a question about the possibility of a “specific” and “direct” declaration, saying this had never been the party’s style. He also expressed reservation over the obsession with individual personalities and individual posts: a reference to the incessant “will he be, won’t he be” talk about whether he will be declared the PM nominee.

Yet, Rahul’s remarks were interpreted as his readiness to be announced the PM candidate. There has been stubborn clamour within Congress for the young leader to be named the party’s PM pick.

Significantly, the interview did not lift the uncertainty on what might unfold at the AICC session on Friday. Congress seems to be divided whether it should name Rahul as the PM candidate or should it stick to the old policy of going into elections without a formal PM nominee.

The party has in the last week or so oscillated between the ambitious desire to declare him to be the PM nominee at the AICC huddle on the one hand, and the hardnosed recognition that doing so could be risky and might dent Brand Rahul at a time when the going is not good for the party in any case.

A section in the party believes there is little to be gained by keeping the ambiguity about leadership since Rahul is anyways seen to be leading the Congress and applause and criticism are bound to be directed at him.

Instead, this school of thought thinks that naming Rahul would give a sense of direction to the party and would show it as a confident player in the 2014 elections.

But opinion is divided because there is also another group that holds that putting Rahul up for the contest would harm the party’s prospects. With BJP having announced Narendra Modi as its PM candidate, it would bring Rahul directly in contest with the Gujarat chief minister and open him to closer scrutiny.