NEW DELHI (AFP) - The scion of India's Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty, Rahul Gandhi, who is seen as a leading contender to be the country's next prime minister, has suggested he may not marry or have children.
Mr Gandhi, a 42-year-old bachelor, was recently named to the number two post in the ruling Congress party, which is headed by his mother, Sonia Gandhi.
His famous surname and youthful image make him the party's main hope for elections due next year, but he has been reluctant to take positions of power and has criticised the dynastic politics to which he owes his ascent.
On Tuesday, Gandhi suggested he may not tie the knot or start a family because doing so could lead him to push his children forward.
"If I get married and have children, I will be status-quoist and will like my children to take my place," he told party members in New Delhi.
Over the past two years, he has projected himself as a man of the people and considers his main mission to democratise the Congress party and promote youth leaders.
Mr Gandhi again dodged questions about his own aspirations, saying he was not focused on becoming prime minister in remarks likely to worry party leaders who are betting on his star power a year ahead of polls.
"Asking me whether I want to be prime minister is a wrong question," he told party members in New Delhi.
Some analysts interpreted the comment as signalling that Rahul would seek to follow his mother's example by nominating a prime ministerial candidate while wielding power behind the scenes.
Ms Sonia Gandhi named Mr Manmohan Singh as prime minister after elections in 2004.
Mr Gandhi is heir to a dynasty that began with India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. His father Rajiv and grandmother Indira were both prime ministers and were both assassinated.
Mr Gandhi's private life is a tightly guarded secret and little appears in the local press, although he said in 2004 he was dating a Spanish woman called Veronique, an architect who grew up in Venezuela.