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1 May 2017

Pitch for Congress chief through consensus

(From left) Amarinder Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi
TT, New Delhi, April 30 (PTI): The next Congress president should be appointed through consensus, not an election, and Rahul Gandhi "is in a position to take over", Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh said today.
The Punjab Congress chief said it was up to Sonia Gandhi whether she would continue as the party's national president for another term and that the party would be "too happy" if she did.
Amarinder favoured the projection of regional leaders in the Congress and making them the party's face in Assembly elections in their respective states.
"Elections are always bitter and consensus keeps the party together. There should be a consensus on the party president. You don't have any bad blood. It is all happening in a happy way," he told PTI in an interview.
The organisational election process within the Congress is underway and the next party chief has to be elected by October 15.
On Sonia and Rahul, Amarinder said: "She has worked very hard. If she wants to stay, I think the party will be too happy. If she wants to go, I think Rahul is in a position to take over.... As party vice-president, I have been dealing with him for two-three years. I find that he is certainly up to it."
Amarinder said his impression was that Sonia felt she had done enough. She has not had time off for the past 20 years since taking over the reins of the Congress in 1997, the chief minister said.
Asked if he preferred someone other than a member of the Gandhi family to lead the party, Amarinder said traditionally the Congress had been headed by a member of the family.
"From Motilal Nehru to Jawaharlal Nehru and then Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, except for some leaders in between," he said. "I am going to vote for Rahul. Who else do we have?"
Asked what was holding Rahul back from taking over, the Punjab leader said he was already going through the process.
"I think one must not write off Rahul. People are trying to write him off. They are trying to fob him off, calling him childish names. That is unnecessary. I think he is very perceptive and very decisive," Amarinder said.
On promoting regional talent within the party, Amarinder said every state had such leaders unlike in the past and the Congress has to project them ahead of elections.
Amarinder said all states had regional parties and leaders and everyone knew who would be chief minister if such entities won.
"So you should have to have a face. The Congress must come down to this point. If (the election in) Himachal is tomorrow, then who is the face? This is very important today," he said and cited his own case.
Amarinder had been named the chief ministerial candidate by the Congress ahead of the Punjab elections this year in a departure from tradition.
"You must project a leader in advance. Look at me, the whole campaign was focused on me. Projection is important," he said, adding that the Congress had no dearth of young leaders in every state.
"You cannot write off the Congress like this," Amarinder said.
He held out hope for the election-battered Congress.
"Today there may be an upswing for the BJP, but who knows (what will happen) two years from now," Amarinder said.
He referred to the Congress's turnaround in the late 70s. "This was when Indira Gandhi lost, Sanjay Gandhi and I lost too. Then suddenly in two years we bounced back. I am not worried about this. This is a cycle that happens in this country," Amarinder said.

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