Rahul Gandhi soon to be Congress President: Bane or boon?
Congress president Sonia Gandhi has confirmed that Rahul Gandhi will soon take over as party chief signifying that Congress' organizational polls, most probably on Oct 25, might finally witness the generational shift. Most states and party wings like Youth Congress have passed the resolutions urging Rahul to take up the presidentship mantle. What will Rahul's elevation imply for the Congress? Read on!
When Rahul announced his political debut in 2004, he had completed his M.Phil in Development Studies from Trinity College, had worked at a London management firm and reportedly was director of a Mumbai-based outsourcing firm. He contested the Nehru-Gandhi bastion Amethi without any political experience in 2004. Even grandmother Indira Gandhi had to fight the "old guard" when she entered the political scene.
Rahul has consistently faced criticism for being a casual leader. During 2015's land ordinance protests, Rahul went on a 53-day sabbatical; in June, before the presidential polls, he made a trip to Italy and in August-September, when he should've been strategizing for Gujarat and Himachal elections, he went incognito. As Rahul's competition is against 24×7 politicians like Modi, his 9-to-5 approach might not work.
Apart from a 2009 LS elections win in UP, where Gandhi enthusiastically campaigned, and the Congress went on to clinch 21 seats compared with 2004 LS elections' 9 seats, Rahul has not won any election for Congress. Even when Congress was in power at Centre, in 2010 Bihar elections, it won only four seats and in 2012 UP elections, 28 seats, under his leadership.
Ahead of the 2014 elections, two interactions that stood out for his inarticulate approach were an hour-long speech to the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and a Times Now interview. At the CII interaction, he couldn't detail his economic agenda. His publicized interview with Arnab Goswami fell flat on the face when he gave pre-prepared answers, irrespective of the questions.
Digvijay Singh, known as Rahul's "guru", had urged Rahul to take up a ministerial berth in the government, which he refused. In 2014, despite becoming Congress vice-president in 2013, Rahul refused to head Congress in LS. Further, state chiefs like Raj Babbar in UP and Ajay Maken in Delhi resigned over electoral defeats, but Rahul is never held publicly accountable for any loss.
Rahul has recently sought to re-invent himself by scathingly attacking the government's economic policies and upping his social media presence. As far as his economic orientation is concerned, ET reports that under him Congress will tilt towards a pro-poor populist approach, while focusing on economic reforms. He has been resonating with the youth promising them jobs, as rising unemployment is considered BJP's Achilles heel.
Will Rahul 2.0 who takes up Congress' mantle be able to draw votes? This question will be answered by year-end when both Gujarat and Himachal go to polls. Presently, Congress is at an all-time low with only 44 LS seats and only five states having Congress governments. In case Congress performs abysmally in the upcoming elections, they might want to re-think their prime-ministerial candidate.