Spotlight on Rahul Gandhi after India vote win

NEW DELHI, May 17, 2009 (AFP) – The Congress party’s resounding victory in India’s elections has shone a spotlight on its star campaigner Rahul Gandhi, heir to the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty and a likely premier in waiting. Gandhi, the 38-year-old son of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, was widely credited with energising the party and pulling in millions of first-time voters.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Saturday he would ask Gandhi to serve in the cabinet, a move seen by analysts as a potential stepping stone to the top job.

Gandhi said his first priority was to work on his pledge to democratise India’s political system — long the preserve of the wealthy and well-connected.

“My job is to change the politics of the country… and unleash the energy of the youngsters,” said Gandhi, whose handsome, dimpled faced beamed from election posters across the country during the long election campaign.

With 51 percent of India’s 1.1 billion population under 25, and two-thirds under 35, the youth vote represents a huge constituency for the centre-left secular party.

Analysts said the Congress victory and a cabinet job would pave the way for Rahul to replace Singh, 76, who recently underwent hear