Congress party has made a remarkable turnaround under Rahul Gandhi in just one year. From losing 11 states to winning 3 Hindi heartland states, Rahul Gandhi’s political journey marks his transformation as a serious contender in India’s political melee.
Four-and-a-half years ago, Rahul Gandhi suffered its worst ever defeat in a general election. Congress party’s 44-seat tally was not even good enough for it to stake a claim for the Leader of the Opposition. Four-and-a-half years later, Rahul Gandhi has stepped into the big league with Congress in government in five states – Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and in Karnataka. In Karnataka, it is in coalition with JDS.
RAHUL GANDHI’S POLITICAL JOURNEY FROM THE TIME HE MADE HIS ELECTORAL DEBUT IN 2004
Joins politics and contests Lok Sabha polls from Amethi, earlier represented by father Rajiv Gandhi. Wins by over 200,000 votes (66 per cent vote share). The Congress comes to power and leads the UPA government at the Centre
Appointed Congress general secretary and given charge of the Indian Youth Congress and National Students’ Union of India; introduces a merit-based electoral system in the units Star campaigner in the Uttar Pradesh assembly election, but the Congress wins just 22 out of 403 seats
Begins to position himself as a messiah of the disadvantaged and downtrodden. Starting with supporting Niyamgiri tribals, over the years, he spends nights in village homes in UP, takes local trains in Mumbai, meets rickshaw drivers and sanitation workers in Delhi, queues up at a bank to exchange currency post demonetisation, flies budget airlines.
Addresses 125 rallies during the Lok Sabha campaign; the Congress wins 21 of the 80 seats in UP, the UPA returns to power
Joins farmers protesting against the UP government’s forcible acquisition of their land at low rates in Bhatta Parsaul village, gets arrested. Later, the UPA government passes the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act
Appointed Congress vice-president, says power is poison Making a surprise appearance at a press briefing by party general secretary Ajay Maken, describes as complete nonsense his own government’s proposed ordinance giving convicted politicians reprieve from disqualification. Forces the government to withdraw the ordinance
UPA loses power, the Congress sinks to 44 seats in the Lok Sabha; Rahul retains Amethi, with a reduced margin.
Goes to an undisclosed location abroad to practise vipassana for nearly two months Attacks the Modi government, calling it a suit-boot sarkar’; forces the government to abandon proposed amendments to the Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2011 Rahul and Sonia Gandhi make a court appearance in the case of alleged misappropriation of funds linked to the National Herald newspaper; court grants bail to all the accused
Takes charge of his Twitter handle, firing salvos laced with wit and sarcasm at the NDA government; immediately finds good traction on social media. Gives an inspiring speech at the University of California, Berkeley, where he reflects on contemporary India and the path forward; it’s followed by another interaction at Princeton University, signalling his arrival as Modi’s prime challenger. Readies his line of attack against the government, focused on unemployment, agricultural distress and the economic slowdown Elected unopposed as Congress president. Under him, the Congress gives the BJP a tough fight in the Gujarat assembly election, restricting its tally to double digits in a two-cornered contest
The Congress outsmarts the BJP the single largest party in the Karnataka assembly election to form a coalition government with the Janata Dal (Secular); Rahul offers CM’s post to alliance partner Leads party to victory in three heartland states of Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh; the Congress loses badly in Telangana and Mizoram.