Congress expects Rahul Gandhi to take over as its chief this year, the party said on Monday, virtually dismissing reports that he would be projected as the chief ministerial candidate in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2017.
"Rahul Gandhi is MP from Amethi and Vice President of Congress. We all expect him to be the President of the Congress in 2016," party leader Jairam Ramesh said at the AICC briefing, when asked about reports that the party's poll strategist Prashant Kishor has suggested that Rahul should be projected as the chief ministerial candidate.
According to reports, Kishor is learnt to be in favour of either Priyanka Gandhi Vadra or Rahul taking the lead in the state election as the chief ministerial candidate.
On the possibility of Priyanka as the chief ministerial candidate, Ramesh said, "I have no knowledge".
According to reports, Kishor feels that Congress can come back to power in 2019 in the Hindi heartland by projecting the Congress vice president and if people start believing that he can lead them to victory in an election.
At the same time, the report also said if Rahul does not give his consent then Priyanka's name should be propped in Uttar Pradesh. And if both turn down the offer, then Kishor may suggest former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit's name.
Kishor, who had managed the successful election campaigns for Narendra Modi in 2014 Lok Sabha polls and Nitish Kumar-led grand alliance in Bihar assembly elections last year, has been drafted by Congress to draw up a campaign strategy for the key state.
There is speculation of changes in Uttar Pradesh Congress this month. Nirmal Khatri is PCC Chief for the last few years while Pradip Mathur is CLP leader.
Congress is in political wilderness in UP since 1989 which saw the emergence of BSP and issues like Ram Mandir and Mandal made it a marginal force where it was in power for almost all the time since independence.
There are reports that Rahul's supporters are pitching for his takeover as party chief sooner than later. He was made the party Vice President at the Jaipur Chintan shivir in January 2013.
Sonia Gandhi has created a record of being at the helm of the party since March 1998.
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