India’s Rahul Gandhi named general secretary in ruling party


NEW DELHI — India’s ruling Congress party named Rahul Gandhi, heir of the Nehru-Gandhi family, as one of its general secretaries on Monday, in an apparent indication it was gearing for possible early polls.

Rahul’s appointment to the All India Congress Committee comes as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s coalition government struggles to retain the support of communist allies opposed to a landmark nuclear energy agreement with the United States.

Congress also reshuffled its office-bearers and named new heads for four key state units in an effort to revitalize the organization of a party whose political fortunes have been patchy since a surprise general election victory in 2004.

Congress activists beat drums, burst firecrackers and danced outside the party headquarters on hearing that Rahul had been named general-secretary in-charge of the youth and students’ wing.

Thirty-seven-year-old Rahul’s mother, Sonia, heads the ruling party and he made a surprise entry into politics ahead of national elections in 2004.

He entered parliament after contesting polls in the family borough of Amethi in the northern heartland state of Uttar Pradesh but has largely remained on the sidelines since, saying he first needed to learn to serve the party better.