Rahul Gandhi’s rise comes at the right moment

The new Congress president has delivered credible performance against all odds

GN Bureau | December 18, 2017


#Rahul Gandhi   #Congress   #elections   #politics   #Gujarat   #Narendra Modi   #BJP  
Rahul Gandhi, president, Congress
Rahul Gandhi, president, Congress

In future, the Gujarat elections might as well be remembered for the arrival of Rahul Gandhi.

 
Going by the leads, the Congress is certainly not going to win, and few had predicted anything like that. However, the party looks set to improve its performance. The Congress has for the first time since 1995 given a tough fight to BJP. And all credit for it goes solely to Rahul Gandhi.
 
Consider the challenges before him. He was up against Modi, who is the tallest leader in India in decades. Also, he was up against Modi in the latter’s home state. This was the first Gujarat elections since Modi became PM, and thus for the first time the party had talked of aiming 150 seats. Moreover, this assembly poll was coming after the Uttar Pradesh verdict, where Modi had spearheaded BJP to a massive victory of the kind not seen by the party in decades. Against the battery of national leaders and union ministers deployed in the BJP campaign, Rahul was largely playing solo. (His mother, the outgoing party president, Sonia Gandhi, did not campaign this time, and seniors like Manmohan Singh only made cameos.)
 
Rahul deserves some marks for showing up in the first place.
 
Of course, he had several factors in his favour too: The resentment against BJP for decisions like demonetisation and GST, the three caste-based campaigns, the anti-incumbency factor after about two decades.
 
His campaign will also be remembered for largely keeping cool, and even speaking of respecting the PM’s chair – even as his party colleagues like Mani Shankar Aiyar took the discourse to a new low.
 
One point, however, that will remain controversial is the soft Hindutva deployed by Rahul, as he visited nearly all the major temples and pilgrimage places, while his party went a step further to prove his Brahmin lineage with photos of him wearing the sacred thread. The Muslim minority – of the state as well as the country – for whom there is no other spokesperson than the Congress, would feel betrayed.

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