NEW DELHI, January 17, 2014 (AFP) – India’s ruling party was putting on a united front Friday at a mass rally after its leader Sonia Gandhi stalled a push to name her son Rahul as prime ministerial candidate at looming elections. Thousands of Congress party members have gathered in the capital New Delhi for a conclave which is being billed as an opportunity to plot a way to avoid humiliation when the country goes to the polls in May.
After a decade in power, Congress is lagging well behind the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in opinion polls, with voters turned off by an economic slowdown and a string of corruption scandals.
With Prime Minister Manmohan Singh retiring after two terms, the party had been expected to nominate the 43-year-old Rahul as its choice for premier at the conclave.
But the prospects were dashed when Sonia Gandhi, the powerful party president and senior-most figure in the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, opposed such a move at a meeting on Thursday night.
“All the members of the CWC (Congress Working Committee) wanted him to be announced as the PM candidate but the Congress president intervened,” the party’s general secretary Janardan Dwivedi told reporters.
“She said: ‘This is not