India: Rahul Gandhi says no plans to marry


India's Congress Party Vice President and Member of Parliament, Rahul Gandhi, speaks with the media at Parliament in New Delhi on February 21, 2013.



NEW DELHI, India — India's Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Gandhi family, once again said he is not interested in becoming prime minister.

"Asking me whether you want to be prime minister is a wrong question," Gandhi reportedly told lawmakers and journalists on Tuesday, according to Indian media. "The prime minister’s post is not my priority. I believe in long-term politics."

Gandhi was appointed the vice president of the Congress party in January, while his mother, Sonia Gandhi, has served as president for many years. He is widely expected to be the prime minister candidate in the next general elections, the BBC noted.

"Our family already had two [sic he forgets Jawaharlal Nehru] prime ministers. My mother could have become the PM any time. ... I have no lust for power or to become the PM. My priority is to empower and democratize the party and give voice to the middle tier in the Congress," he said, according to Indian news site Daily News & Analysis.

More on GlobalPost: Can Rahul Gandhi revive India's political system?

Gandhi has for years rejected calls for him to step into the prime minister's shoes as though Manmohan Singh were simply breaking them in until the yuvraj (or "prince") of the Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty was ready to try them on.

But Gandhi's insistence that he aims to work to rebuild the party and eschew the limelight has this year begun to sound more like spin-doctoring and less like reluctance — especially because the Congress doesn't have much else to work with.

Perhaps Rahul learned from his Italian-born mother, Sonia Gandhi, who defused controversy over her foreign birth by refusing the prime minister's seat in 2004. The lesson? It's better to play the reluctant savior, taking the helm only when your followers demand it, than it is to swan in as if the chair is your birthright.

Gandhi also reportedly said on Tuesday, "If I get married and have children, I will be status-quoist and will like my children to take my place."

Rival party BJP's spokesperson Shahnawaaz Hussain asked, "Does that mean those of us who are married are not capable of serving the nation?"

Many Indian politicians, including several top leaders of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), have remained unmarried to demonstrate their commitment to "the people." The Gandhi family has never embraced the traditional model of arranged alliances, and there doesn't seem to be anybody waiting in the wings.

Jason Overdorf contributed to this article from New Delhi.