India’s Rahul Gandhi seen stepping into spotlight after mother’s win

NEW DELHI, May 14, 2006 (AFP) – The clamour is growing for Rahul Gandhi, scion of India’s most powerful political dynasty, to step into the spotlight after steering his mother Sonia Gandhi to a landslide by-election win. “Son Rises,” said the Times of India in a headline after Sonia racked up a record 417,000-vote victory margin last Thursday in the family bastion of Rae Bareli in politically pivotal Uttar Pradesh state.

Indian newspapers called the clean-cut politician’s role as manager of Sonia’s campaign “Rahul’s launchpad” while cries from ruling Congress members for him to take a leading party role have been getting louder.

Italian-born Sonia had triggered the by-election by quitting as MP to defuse a bitter controversy about elected politicians holding other paid posts.

While thanking voters, Sonia who is Congress president, credited her win in equal measure to “Mr Rahul Gandhi and the team of Congress who made it possible,” and spoke of finding a role for her son in the party organisation.

Asked whether Rahul, 35, who bears a powerful resemblance to his assassinated father Rajiv, would take on a bigger role, The Hindustan Times quoted Sonia as saying: “Yes, this could be thought about now.”