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Congress leaders hail the 'R factor'

By Vicky Nanjappa and Syed Firdaus Ashraf in New Delhi
Last updated on: May 16, 2009 14:37 IST
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The R factor seems to have worked this time. Many Congress workers believe that had it not been for party general secretary Rahul Gandhi's charismatic leadership, the Congress would not have emerged as the single largest party.

Outside the Congress party headquarters in New Delhi, the only slogan one hears is 'Rahul Gandhi zindaabad'. The only other leader whose name crops up in the sloganeering is Sonia Gandhi; no other leader is mentioned.

The Congress' youth workers believe that generation next has arrived and it is Rahul who will lead the nation in the future. Rahul has repeatedly stressed on a more active participation by the youth wing of the Congress.

For veteran Congress leader Moti Lal Vohra, it is as if the days of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi have come back. "The Congress party is back in form and we are all elated with this victory. This is the first time India has reelected a coalition government as the National Democratic Alliance, under the leadership of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, could not do that," he said.

Though Rahul entered the political scenario five years ago, he started asserting himself in party matters only in the last six months.

Many feel that though Rahul maintained a low profile for a long time, he was slowly and steadily working with party workers across the country to rejuvenate them, says senior Congress leader Ambika Soni. "Rahul has been working among the people and the results have proven that," she said.

Senior Congress leader Oscar Fernandes termed Rahul 'the star of the campaign' and added that the party did well largely due to the Gandhi scion's efforts.

"Rahul campaigned in 106 places and worked relentlessly in each constituency to ensure a Congress win," adds senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.

The Rahul factor has done wonders for the party, believes party general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi. "He led the campaign from the front. The youth engineering undertaken by Rahul has helped the party go a long way in the election," he said.

Congress general secretary Mohsina Kidwai praised Rahul and added that the youth had come out in large numbers to vote for the party thanks to Rahul's efforts.

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Vicky Nanjappa and Syed Firdaus Ashraf in New Delhi