Gandhi Scion Declines Chance to Be India’s Next Leader

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India's Congress party vice President, Rahul Gandhi addresses the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry's (FICCI) annual general meeting in New Delhi, on Dec. 21, 2013.

Rahul Gandhi, the vice president of India’s ruling Congress party and scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, will not run as Congress’s Prime Ministerial candidate for elections in 2014. The announcement Thursday comes as something of a surprise; Gandhi will still lead the party’s 2014 troubled election campaign.

The decision to not announce a prime ministerial candidate reportedly was the wish of Sonia Gandhi, Congress chief and Gandhi’s mother. Had he been anointed, the 43-year-old Gandhi would have had to slug it out against the more experienced and aggressive Narendra Modi, the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s dynamic and controversial prime ministerial candidate. The BJP will enter the elections with real momentum and some expect Congress to be swept away by a tide of anti-incumbency voters frustrated with the Indian status quo. In other words, if he put himself in line for the Prime Minister’s post, Gandhi could be putting himself in line for a considerable personal drubbing.

Gandhi, who has been often dubbed a reluctant heir-apparent, had cautiously accepted the leadership mantle first worn by his great-grandfather, India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. “I will do whatever the Congress Party wants me to do. I am only concerned about why the entire argument comes to standstill over the issue of a ‘post’,” he had told the Dainik Bhaskar recently.

As polls show his party losing ground to its rivals, Gandhi perhaps may not have worry about the Prime Minister’s job for quite some time.