A Gandhi Rises to No. 2 Post in Indian Party

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NEW DELHI -- Rahul Gandhi, the heir apparent of an Indian political dynasty, was formally elevated Saturday to the No. 2 position in India's ruling National Congress Party, making him second only to his mother, Sonia Gandhi.

Mr. Gandhi was appointed party vice president, but whether he will serve as the party's candidate for prime minister in elections scheduled for next year is still unclear. Mr. Gandhi has long been expected to assume the mantle of his family's and his party's leadership, but his uncertain political skills and seeming reluctance to assert himself had held him back. Speculation had been building about whether this was the year that he would step firmly into the spotlight.

Mr. Gandhi's elevation took place at a meeting of the Congress Party's policy-making group, the Congress working committee, which unanimously adopted a resolution to make him the party's No. 2 behind his mother, who remains the party president.

Whether Manmohan Singh, the country's prime minister, will serve as the party's prime ministerial candidate next year is uncertain, but given his age -- he is 80 -- it seems unlikely.

Equally uncertain is who will be the candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party, the main opposition. Narendra Modi is now that party's most successful leader after he recently won a third term as the chief minister of the western state of Gujarat. But Mr. Modi's unpopularity with Muslims could cost the party crucial allies, so his role in next year's elections is unknown.

Mr. Gandhi has for years headed two youth organizations, the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India. In recent remarks, Mrs. Gandhi said a key strategy for next year's election was to find ways to appeal to India's youth population. Half of India's population is under the age of 25. Her remarks raised expectations that she would push her son to assume a greater role in the party's leadership.

At 42, Mr. Gandhi is no longer a young man, but he is much younger than much of the rest of India's leadership class, whose average age is 65.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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