Is the Congress thinking of projecting its vice-president Rahul Gandhi as the CM candidate in the UP Assembly election next year? The grand-old party's master poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who has helped leaders like Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar succeed in electoral battles, has suggested that fielding Rahul or Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the face in UP is key for the party to become relevant in that very important state. [Congress needs Mayawati more than Rahul in UP]
In the last two Assembly elections in 2007 and 2012, the Congress had finished a poor fourth among the major four players in the state's politics. And on both occasions, one or the other main regional party grabbed a majority. [Varun Gandhi third-most preferred as UP CM candidate]
Congress generally doesn't project a CM candidate
If the Congress indeed goes ahead to make Rahul Gandhi its CM candidate in UP, it will be a moment of significance. For one, the Congress generally doesn't project a CM candidate in a state election as the final approval comes from the high command [though in recent times, the high command is under a lot less pressure since the Congress hardly wins any election nowadays, let alone single-handedly].
In case of the national election, a member of Gandhi family becomes an automatic PM candidate. Thus, talks about projecting a CM candidate in UP and that too, seven months ahead of the election, is quite unique in the Congress's style of functioning.
A Gandhi as a CM candidate? It's a reverse pyramid in an elitist party
The second significance of this likely move is projecting a Gandhi member as a CM candidate. This has never happened in history of the grand-old party before. Starting from Jawaharlal Nehru, three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family became India's prime minister, almost as an automatic choice and they never had to take the steps to reach the top, unlike someone like Narendra Modi.
While Nehru was Mahatma Gandhi's favourite and looked the best man to bear the responsibility of nurturing India as a newly born nation-state in 1947; his daughter Indira Gandhi, though was brought into politics to play the role of a dumb doll, proved everybody wrong by emerging the only 'man' in the government; her son Rajiv Gandhi became an automatic choice as the PM after Indira was assassinated by her own bodyguards in 1984.
Sanjay Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi were also two potential PM candidates but they never contested a state election
Two other members of the Gandhi family also had fair chances to become the PM---Indira's younger son Sanjay Gandhi and current Congress president Sonia Gandhi---but they could not and did not. While Sanjay was denied a chance by the fate as he died in a plane crash in 1980, Sonia refused to become the premier in 2004, thanks to her "inner voice".
But not a single personality mentioned above had ever become a CM or even a CM candidate even though they became the PM or had neared the throne.
But this revolution is more out of worry than a true democratic transformation
Hence, it will be quite a revolution if the Congress fields Rahul as its CM candidate. However, having said that, one must also add that this 'revolution' has been more out of worry than a democratic transformation.
Having lost a series of states besides being reduced to its worst-ever size in Parliament since Independence, the Congress is now desperate to play its last card and that is fielding a Gandhi in a state election.
A similar demand has also reportedly come from Tamil Nadu which proves that the party's local leaderships across the federation are in complete mess and it now requires a Rahul to become the CM candidate in all 29 states of the Union if the Congress is to stay alive.