Amid a wind of defeat, Rahul Gandhi era begins in Congress

Rajat Kain

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi greets his mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi, and former prime minister Manmohan Singh during a grand event held at the lawns of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in New Delhi, Dec 16, 2017. PTI

New Delhi: Congress president Rahul Gandhi greets his mother and predecessor Sonia Gandhi, and former prime minister Manmohan Singh during a grand event held at the lawns of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in New Delhi, Dec 16, 2017.
PTI

Rahul Gandhi has taken over as the president of Congress party today. His coronation has come at a time when pollsters across the networks have predicted defeat for his party in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh assembly polls. Rahul was formally elected to succeed his mother as the president of Congress party on December 11 after his lone nomination was approved by the office-bearers of Congress party ruling out a contest.

He took over from his mother Sonia Gandhi, who announced her retirement as party chief on Friday. Though she will continue in her public-political life, it is not clear if she will be contesting 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

Sonia, widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, took over the mantle of Congress president in 1998. She leaves office as the longest running president of India’s grand old party. Under her tenure, the Congress party, which was facing terminal decline in mid 90’s post the rise of BJP, revived itself winning several state assembly polls and back to back Lok Sabha polls in 2004 and 2009.

New Delhi: File photo of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders at the Congress Working Committee meeting at 10 Janpath in New Delhi, Nov 20, 2017.  Photo - PTI

New Delhi: File photo of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi and other party leaders at the Congress Working Committee meeting at 10 Janpath in New Delhi, Nov 20, 2017.
Photo – PTI

Rahul Gandhi, who was elevated as the vice president of the party since January 2013, was tipped to succeed Sonia Gandhi for some time now.

With the process, he has become fifth member of his family to take reigns of the Congress party, following Motilal Nehru, Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi.

Often referred to as a grand old party, Congress is today facing a stiff electoral challenge from the ruling BJP at all levels – from panchayat, taluka to state to national and a larger issue of revival.

Reduced to just 44 seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, which were largely fought under the campaign design of Rahul Gandhi, the Congress has since lost string of state assembly polls, some of them its strongholds for decade, to the BJP.

Post his takeover, the Congress is expected to undergo an organisational revamp as well, ascending a new generation of Congress leaders into political landscape of the country.