Congress victory points to...

Congress victory points to...

Poll results pave way for Rahuls rise

From an inexperienced crown prince to a key strategist and star campaigner, Rahul Gandhi has come of age as the 2009 elections have proved.

And, it did not take him too long. Only in 2004, did he decide to contest elections from the family pocketborough of Amethi.

All this time, the 39-year- old heir apparent cautiously avoided being linked to the highest post, preferring to work for the party and to strengthen its base, especially in the key state of Uttar Pradesh.

He accepted the role of the party general secretary in 2007 after which he steadfastly toured UP and other states, in what turned out to be his own “Discovery of India” (which took him to Karnataka too). His focus was particularly on UP, where he tried rebuilding the much battered party machinery.

Undeterred by the party’s poor showing in UP assembly elections, Rahul continued his work. As seat adjustment talks with SP was getting nowhere, it was Rahul who took the decision to go it alone.

All his work in UP seems to have paid rich dividends this time, as the Congress doubled its count in the state from its showing in 2004. This is no mean achievement, given that the party has all but given up on UP not too long ago. Now, results in the state has even bolstered its chances across the country and even the confidence to win an absolute majority next time around. 

Youth icon

The Lok Sabha polls have, besides raising his political profile, helped him emerge from his parents’ shadow. Representing the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Rahul was seen as a youth icon and he was pitched as a youth leader in the polls as against an aged BJP’s prime ministerial candidate L K Advani.

Along with mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Rahul gave full support to Manmohan Singh and not for once in the last five years was there any scope for misunderstanding with the prime minister. For the first time, the party projected a prime ministerial candidate in the elections backing Singh for the post.

In 2004, Rahul was credited with resisting the prime minister’s post and suggested the name of Singh who in turn projected the suave leader as the youth icon. The Amethi MP is widely credited for bringing young faces in the Congress at the grassroot level and also personally selected some of them for the LS elections as candidates.

“This is a turnaround and credit for this goes to Rahul... This is a result of his hard work,” said senior party leader Motilal Vohra. With the Congress’ commendable performance seen as a victory for Rahul, party leaders see a bigger role for him in the days to come. A Union minister?

Singh said soon after the UPA victory that he was persuading Rahul to be a minister in his cabinet. If inducted, Rahul, party sources told Deccan Herald, would prefer Human Resource Development or rural development portfolios.

When will Rahul become prime minister? Party general secretary Digvijay Singh has the final take: “Rahul Gandhi would become PM when we get 285 seats on our own. Why now?”

Would that be in 2014?