However, opposition parties are already seizing on the fast political rise of Rahul Gandhi — the son, grandson and great-grandson of Indian prime ministers — to brand Congress as nepotistic and elitist.
Arun Jaitley, a leader of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, said Rahul Gandhi's elevation in the Congress party was a move to convert the world's largest democracy into a dynastic nation. Jaitley said the leader of his party was decided on the basis of ability, not lineage.
In 2004, Manmohan Singh, a technocrat, was chosen to fill the prime minister's seat in 2004 by Sonia Gandhi, the Congress leader and widow of assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
Singh has been widely seen as a regent, keeping the seat warm until Rahul Gandhi was ready to take what some see as his birthright.
But Gandhi has displayed little public sign that he is undergoing any sort of apprenticeship that would prepare him for running the country. He has never held a Cabinet-level position.
Party workers have been demanding Rahul Gandhi's elevation for years, but he had been shying away from holding a top position in the party.
His supporters argued he was rebuilding the party at the grassroots level and has taken a lead in the Congress' campaigns in state elections in Uttar Pradesh and in Bihar in recent years. The party performed poorly in both states' elections last year.
Rahul Gandhi entered politics in 2004 and became a lawmaker from Amethi seat in northern Uttar Pradesh state. The parliamentary seat was held by his mother until she shifted to a neighboring constituency.