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Reluctant Rahul To Dodge Cage Fight With Modi?

The heir of India’s greatest political dynasty doesn’t want to be prime minister. That’s what Rahul Gandhi—descended from former prime ministers Rajiv (assassinated in 1991), Indira (assassinated in 1984), and Jawaharlal Nehru (the first prime minister of India)—said yesterday in a “rare free-wheeling conversation with Congress MPs and journalists” in Delhi.

Gandhi’s comments are probably a reaction to the grandstanding of Narendra Modi, who is angling to become the prime minister candidate for India’s main opposition party, the BJP. “Congress [Rahul’s party] is destroying this country like termites. It is very difficult to deal with termites—you finish them in one place and they rise in another.” Modi attacked dynastic politics, saying, as India Today reports, “the Congress tradition has been to sacrifice the nation’s interest for the sake of one family.”

“The only medicine for this ailment is sweat of the BJP worker. Only this sweat can free this nation from the termite that is the Congress,” Modi continued in front of a cheering crowd.

Rahul’s reluctance is something of a tradition among the Gandhis. His mother, Sonia, “fought like a tigress” to prevent her husband Rajiv from becoming PM after his mother, Indira, was assassinated, and Sonia herself famously refused to assume the Congress Party chairmanship for seven long years after Rajiv’s death. In a TV interview years ago she acknowledged how hard a decision that was: “… each time I walked past those photographs (of Rajiv’s and Indira’s) I felt I wasn’t responding to my duty, the duty to this family and the country.” In March 1998 Sonia finally gave in to her “karmic duty” and became the chairwoman of the Congress Party.

Rahul will be next. “That Manmohan Singh [India’s current PM] was standing in for Rahul was always known,” writes Vidya Subrahmaniam in the Hindu. Rahul may say he doesn’t want the job, but then again it may not be up to him. “All Congress workers desire that Rahul Gandhi become the PM one day and we are sure that our wish will be fulfilled,” said Congress Party spokesman Rashid Alvi.

Narendra Modi will be waiting.

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