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India's next Gandhi rises with critics to answer

Published on Jan 21, 2013 4:17 PM
Rahul Gandhi, a lawmaker and son of India's ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, speaks during the All India Congress Committee (AICC) meeting in Jaipur, capital of India's desert state of Rajasthan on Jan 20, 2013. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW DELHI (AFP) - Mr Rahul Gandhi, the next in line in India's top political dynasty, has been handed the keys to power, but his political abilities and policy convictions remain largely an open question.

Mr Gandhi was named vice-president of the ruling Congress party on Saturday at a ceremony that saw senior leaders openly weeping. Tributes hailed him as "the heartbeat of young people" and even India's answer to Mr Barack Obama.

In his decision to accept the post, the 42-year-old who has spent a lifetime in the corridors of power appeared to signal willingness to follow in the footsteps of his great-grandfather, grandmother and father as prime ministers.

Until now the Cambridge and Harvard-educated bachelor, often spotted in upmarket nightspots and restaurants in the capital, had refused repeated offers of cabinet positions and entreaties to take a bigger role in the party.

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