As Sonia slowly recedes to the shadows, is Rahul ready to take over?

New Delhi: With Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi leading from the front in the ongoing campaign for assembly polls in the five states, the conspicuous absence of his mother and party president Sonia Gandhi from action has kept everyone guessing whether the former is all set to take over the baton of the grand old party.

The states of Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, Manipur, and Uttarakhand are set to go to polls this year.

The move is seen as more than just coincidental and appears to be a calculative step aimed at ensuring that Rahul grabs all eyeballs and emerges as the face of the Congress.

The campaign in two poll-bound states of Punjab and Goa ends on Friday. However, the Congress president surprised all with her absence, leading political circles to speculate the reason for her absence.

The probable explanations range from her deteriorating health to her deliberately taking a backseat.

However, sources say that before pushing Rahul as the Congress chief, she wants to establish her son as a successful leader.

Optimistic of a political edge in Punjab, the Congress Party is also upbeat that its alliance with the Samajwadi Party will bear results in the politically crucial Uttar Pradesh elections.

The way Rahul has been leading from the front in all party programmes is evident of the fact that he is all set to take charge as the next party president.

Nevertheless, one cannot discount elder sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s role from behind the curtains.

Whether it is taking a final call on the candidates in the Samajwadi Party-Congress coalition for the Uttar Pradesh election or strategising the campaign, everything is being monitored by Priyanka.

In such a scenario, it’s hard to accept reports suggesting that Sonia has remained out of electoral politics because of health issues.

On many occasions, Sonia has tried to push Rahul to the front, be it unfurling the flag on the Congress foundation day despite being in the country, or sending him to the Jan Vedna Sammelan in Talkatora stadium in her place. Sonia is consistently trying to make a point that Rahul is the next face of Congress.

However, this doesn’t mean that Sonia has refrained from stepping out in public altogether.

On Tuesday, she came out for the President’s address before the Budget Session of the Parliament and was later seen at the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital after the demise of former union minister and Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) MP E. Ahamed.

On all these occasions, she seemed to be fit and healthy, thereby leaving several curious minds wondering as to what could be the reason for her absence from the Congress’ campaign in the five poll-bound states.