OUR BUREAU New Delhi

Congress scion Rahul Gandhi in a single, deft stroke cut speculation in the electronic media to size over his next big responsibility in the party by not attending the Congress core committee meeting at the PMs

House on Friday.

In fact, he excused himself and walked out just before Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee walked in and the meeting began, sources disclosed on Saturday.

However, not much can be seen in the move since Rahul was made a part of the core committee only in Sonias absence.

They said Rahul had called on Dr Manmohan Singh to discuss a matter, but left just before the core committee meeting began. The PM requested him to stay back and attend the meeting, but he politely declined, saying ” you have a meeting and I donalt39alt39 t want to disturb,” the sources said.

Congress president Sonia Gandhi, who chaired a meeting of the partyalt39alt39 s central election committee at her home on Thursday, skipped the core committee meeting as she has been advised to avoid going out. Only because of her absence, the PM has been chairing its meetings.

The core committee, which also included Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram, A K Antony and Ahmed Patel besides Sonia and PM, invariably meets every Friday to take stock of developments and it has emerged as the extra- constitutional highest policy and decision making body, the role assigned in the party constitution only to the Congress Working Committee. Sources also disclosed that a 4- member caretaker team of Rahul, Ahmed Patel, Antony and general secretary Janardan Dwivedi constituted by Sonia while rushing abroad for a surgery to handle the party matters in her absence stands dissolved since after return home last week as she is able to attend to the urgent files herself.

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