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Rahul Gandhi Will Not Run for Indian Prime Minister

  • VOA News

Rahul Gandhi, a lawmaker and son of India's ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, speaks during a news conference in New Delhi Dec. 14, 2013.

Rahul Gandhi, a lawmaker and son of India's ruling Congress party chief Sonia Gandhi, speaks during a news conference in New Delhi Dec. 14, 2013.

India's political matriarch has told her struggling party that she will not nominate her son for the prime minister post in the upcoming elections.

Sonia Gandhi said Friday at a meeting of the ruling Congress Party that an agreement had been reached the day before that her son Rahul would not be the party's choice for prime minister. She said the "decision is final."

Congress is lagging well behind the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party in opinion polls, with voters turned off by an economic slowdown and a string of corruption scandals.

Gandhi said the upcoming election will be a battle for India's "age-old secular tradition."

The BJP, headed by Narendra Modi, delivered a drubbing to Congress in recent state elections.

Modi is chief minister of western Gujarat state. He has been accused of doing little to stop anti-Muslim riots in 2002 shortly after he came into office. The violence left more than 1,000 people dead.

Supporters say that since then, Modi's record of steady governance, development and growth has won over voters, including Muslims, across Gujarat's 60 million people.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has said it would be "disastrous" if Modi became prime minister. Singh, who is 81, is retiring after two terms.

Singh has been widely seen as someone who took the prime minister position until Rahul Gandhi was ready to take it, which some believe is Gandhi's birthright. His father, grandmother and great-grandfather were all prime ministers of India, but Gandhi has shunned several invitations to join the government.

There has been press speculation that Congress' expected defeat will be so comprehensive that the Gandhi family fears it could kill off Rahul's nascent political career.

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