Nothing new, his mother Sonia Gandhi too did the same thing when Congress wanted to make her the Prime Minister of the country. She refused the offer actually based on personal reasons which action was highlighted by her followers as a great sacrifice. This aspect is elaborately narrated in a post on this blog with the link:
The entire family circle of Sonia Gandhi was in panic after assassination of Rajiv Gandhi and was not prepared to take any risk further, hence a decision of herself not accepting the position of Indian Prime Minister and there was nothing like any sacrifice on her part as her party men tried to project. Exactly similar is the position in the case of Rahul Gandhi who initially consented to get projected as a prime ministerial candidate of the Congress Party but his mother Sonia Gandhi vetoed the proposal down and this she had to do because of her party being in a political coma with every chance of losing the elections due shortly if the mood of the masses is any indication. Narendra Modi is correct in saying that no mother may ever take the risk of her son losing in the battle. Knowing fully well that the prospects of winning the elections are just so bleak for the Congress, Sonia Gandhi did the vetoing causing a U-turn for Rahul Gandhi. It’s good, at least at the moment, that the Congress loyalists have not yet projected Rahul Gandhi as a sacrificer like it was done earlier in Sonia Gandhi’s case.