Assembly results 2018: A value addition to Rahul Gandhi’s CV but he needs to do more
New Delhi, Dec 11: It was by far the happiest day for Congress president Rahul Gandhi who took over the reins from his mother Sonia last year. The 48-year-old leader saw the Congress giving the BJP a close fight in Prime Minister Narendra Modi's home state of Gujarat last December but eventually lost the contest. The next high point came in Rahul Gandhi's career in May this year when the Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) managed a joint win over the BJP in Karnataka.
However, barring the exception of Puducherry in 2016 and Punjab in 2017, the Congress hasn't had any election result that went to its way overwhelmingly. And while Puducherry is too small a UT to affect the national discourse, the credit for the Congress's victory in Punjab primarily went to Captain Amrinder Singh, the current chief minister.
In that sense, the results in the 2018 Assembly elections mark, for the first time, a clear win for Rahul Gandhi's leadership even though his critics continue to say that it was more a verdict that went against the BJP and not in favour of the Congress. But those are more of philosophical words for a win makes a leader equally good.
These results will make some value addition to Rahul's CV ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election. He had led the party to do well in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh long before in the 2009 Lok Sabha election but there was no success thereafter for the man who was only ridiculed over his gesture, knowledge, in fact, on each word he uttered.
In the run-up to the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the Congress was not sure about how to project Rahul Gandhi, their future leader. In the middle of devastating defeats, projecting him as its face would have hampered its chances more, felt the Grand Old Party. The 3-0 results against the Congress in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in December 2013 had added to the Congress's confusion even though Rahul was elevated to the position of vice-president in January 2013. The BJP's prime ministerial candidate then, Modi, got a massive boost to his mission by the virtue of the thumping wins in these three states.
Five years since then, it looks the settings have changed for both the national leaders. Although it still can't be said that Modi has faces danger of losing the general elections scheduled in a few months' time from now, Rahul certainly has got a renewed opportunity to establish his credentials now on the national stage with the favourable results under his belt.
Rahul, unlike his PM predecessors, will have a challenging task of alliance building
The Gandhi will though not have an easy path ahead of him for unlike his predecessor who served as the prime minister of India, the Congress president will have to deal and negotiate with a lot of regional parties and their ambitious bosses from a position of weakness. In case the anti-Modi front does well in the upcoming Lok Sabha election, Rahul might not be an automatic choice for the PM's post despite leading a national party and could have to play a supporting role. But as a realistic leader, he shouldn't mind that. The days of the Congress's one-sided dominance are over in Indian politics and the party has to learn the reality of co-existence rather than dominate in the current scenario.
Congress's hasn't been wiped out of India map between 2014-19
But at least, the Congress president will now be confident that his party has not been wiped out of India's map between two national elections as many in the BJP and non-BJP circles had predicted. This marks a morale booster for a party which was looking down and almost out with successive defeats. The Congress president now should aim for an image make-over and that he can do the best through action - like knitting together a formidable alliance against Modi - and not misdirected words.