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Last Updated: Monday, 24 September 2007, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Rahul Gandhi gets Congress post
Rahul Gandhi (right) with mother Sonia Gandhi
Mr Gandhi has so far been reluctant to take up a party post
India's governing Congress party has named Rahul Gandhi as a general secretary in the party.

Mr Gandhi, 37, is the son of Congress party president Sonia Gandhi and is tipped as a future prime minister.

Analysts say Mr Gandhi's appointment is an indication that the Congress is preparing for early elections.

Its alliance with left-wing parties has been under pressure. Meanwhile, the main opposition party, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is in disarray.

Rahul's leadership right now is very important to lead the country into the next era
Congress Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes

Rahul Gandhi was elected to the lower house of parliament from Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in the last general elections in 2004.

Mr Gandhi will be heading the youth and students' wing of the party.

Celebrations

The announcement of Mr Gandhi's appointment has been greeted by jubilant supporters who have gathered outside the Congress party headquarters in central Delhi.

Children wear masks of Rahul Gandhi on his birthday
Rahul Gandhi is very popular with Congress supporters

Beating drums and waving posters of Mr Gandhi, the supporters burst firecrackers to celebrate the news.

The youngest member of India's Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, Rahul Gandhi had earlier turned down appeals to play a more high-profile role in the party.

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

His great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was independent India's first prime minister, and his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi were both prime ministers.

The Congress party has been under tremendous pressure in the recent weeks from its left-wing allies who have been threatening to end their support unless the government shelves a controversial nuclear deal with the United States.

With talks of mid-term polls gaining momentum, some analysts say the party is keen to project a new youthful image.

They say with the appointment of Mr Gandhi, the Congress has pulled out an ace and his entry could be a major boost to the party's fortunes in the coming days.

Rahul Gandhi played a major role in Congress' campaigning in elections in India's biggest state, Uttar Pradesh, this year. But the party failed to reverse its declining fortunes there.




SEE ALSO
Profile: Rahul Gandhi
24 Sep 07 |  South Asia
Rahul Gandhi declines party role
23 Jan 06 |  South Asia
Gandhi name dominates again
19 May 04 |  South Asia

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