Rahul Gandhi's anointment as the Congress prime ministerial candidate appears to be a mere formality, the party indicated today after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh declared he would bow out of office after the Lok Sabha elections.
"There is a principle and there is a ritual (karmkand). As far as the principle is concerned, the entire party, the whole world knows that Rahul Gandhi's name will come first whenever the question of Prime Ministership will crop up in Congress. But political parties have certain formalities, a process.
"When those formalities will happen, when the announcement will be made is something on which there is no further scope left for the party to say something officially when Congress President Sonia Gandhi has already said that the party candidate will be declared at an opportune time," party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters here.
There is a speculation that the party can declare the name of Gandhi as its PM candidate for 2014 even before the AICC meeting on January 17. However, senior party functionaries declined to comment on it.
A meeting of Congress Working Committee to finalise the resolution for the AICC meeting will take place on January 16. A senior party functionary speaking on the condition of anonymity, however, said that is not necessary to take the decision on naming anybody a PM candidate in the CWC meeting
as it is something, which can also be taken up directly at the AICC meeting. There is intense speculation that the AICC meeting will see the declaration of Gandhi as PM candidate.
Talking to reporters Dwivedi dismissed as "unnecessary question" when asked whether somebody other than the Congress Vice President be named as party's PM candidate.
"I have already answered that question," he said without elaborating further.
The senior Congress leader stated close to the top leadership further said seeking to set the record straight, "the party has always maintained that after Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi holds the second place. Whenever a question about Prime Ministership in Congress comes up, the entire party will like to seek that Rahul Gandhi holds that post.
"But as long as this decision is not taken officially, the party will say nothing on that except that it is Rahul Gandhi who comes after Sonia Gandhi in the party." "I will hand over the baton to a new prime minister," the Prime Minister said strongly backing Rahul Gandhi for the top job.
Dwivedi also dismissed questions on whether