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Last Updated: Monday, 23 January 2006, 14:21 GMT
Rahul Gandhi declines party role
Rahul (left) and Priyanka Gandhi
Rahul Gandhi and his sister belong to the powerful Nehru-Gandhi dynasty
Rahul Gandhi, the youngest member of India's Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, has turned down appeals to play a more high-profile Congress party role.

Mr Gandhi made the comments while addressing a convention of India's governing party in Hyderabad.

"My place right now is among our people, my place right now is to learn and understand so I can serve my people and party better," he said.

Three generations of his family have served as Indian prime minister.

The BBC's Sanjeev Srivastava, who is in Hyderabad, says members of the Congress party - one of oldest political parties in the world - have always looked upon a member of the Gandhi family for leadership and direction.

I appreciate and I am grateful for your feelings and support. I assure you I will not let you down

Over the three-day convention, thousands of party members demanded that Rahul Gandhi be asked to speak and play a more central role in the party.

In his speech, Mr Gandhi urged them to be patient.

"I appreciate and I am grateful for your feelings and support. I assure you I will not let you down," the Associated Press quoted him as saying.

Under pressure

The Congress party, which won a shock victory in the 2004 general elections, has been hit by a series of political setbacks in recent months.

It has lost elections in the crucial state of Bihar and its government in the southern state of Karnataka faces losing a vote of confidence.

It has also been hit by a series of scandals, the most serious of them being the resignation of former foreign minister, Natwar Singh, over allegations that he profited from the Iraq oil-for-food deal.

Rahul Gandhi won his first election in the 2004 polls from Amethi, the constituency once held by his father Rajiv Gandhi who was assassinated in 1991.

His mother, Sonia, is the current party president.


India votes 2004: Full in-depth coverage here

Cabinet members Old faces return
Gandhi family loyalists back in from the cold, but no fresh blood in cabinet.


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