Rahul Gandhi 2.0: Hand also rises

Delhi, IndiaWritten By: Kartikeya SharmaUpdated: Dec 12, 2018, 10:44 AM IST

File photo of Congress President Rahul Gandhi. Photograph:(ANI)

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The victory has given Rahul Gandhi a window right before the Lok Sabha elections to position himself to negotiate a better bargain for the Congress. This time he will be taken more seriously.

Congress Party has made a come-back. This time the credit for this victory goes to none other than Rahul Gandhi who took over as Congress President a year back.

After a series of defeats and upsets, Rahul Gandhi has earned the victory for himself. Such was the image problem that the win in Punjab was not attributed to the planning he did, instead, the credit went to Captain Amarinder Singh. 

This time around it was his campaign style and selection of issues which worked for the party. There was also no Sonia Gandhi around with whom the credit could be shared with.

The results themselves are an eye-opener. It breaks the myth of BJP of turning around lost elections. It also breaks the myth of Congress as a failed party which cannot fight elections against the Modi-Shah regime. The result also breaks the myth of impregnable strength of RSS which had been projected as an organisation that had mastered the dark art of winning elections in India.

This election also saw senior and junior leadership of the Congress fighting elections. But the best surprise came from Chhattisgarh where Congress leadership was non-existent. The Congress sweep in Chhattisgarh shows that electoral turn around can also take place in absence of state leadership if the messaging on key issues remain clear and strong.

Though it does not mean that Congress on its own is set to sweep elections in 2019. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee after sweeping the three north Indian states in 2003 went on to lose the national elections in 2004.

It is a lesson to BJP that not all elections can be polarised on emotive issues. It is a reminder to them that rural distress and anti-farmer messaging by Congress against BJP can have disastrous results and cannot be ignored.

But Congress should also ponder over two issues. It has not been able to recover ground in Telangana. The arithmetic did not create the right chemistry which could attract the voters. In fact, it shows that the opportunistic alliance does not work at local level and Telangana repeated Uttar Pradesh where SP-Congress alliance failed to counter BJP which it swept handsomely. More so, Congress has been wiped out of Northeast. Probably it is first time after 1952 that Northeast does not a single state under its belt. Northeast has truly become 'Congress Mukt'. 

Congress should also learn a lesson from Amit Shah's campaign style which resurrected his party in Rajasthan where political pundits gave clean sweep to the Congress Party. Congress will form the government in the state but it will not be called a sweep. 
The victory will allow Rahul Gandhi to assert himself far more powerfully with regional parties to negotiate alliances which would be state specific. The victory also thwarts the idea of 'Grand Alliance' in which Congress would have been the side player. 

The victory has given Rahul Gandhi a window right before the Lok Sabha elections to position himself to negotiate a better bargain for the Congress. This time he will be taken more seriously.

BJP, on the other hand, will have to rethink whether they would fight the election on governance issue or an emotive issue like Ayodhya. The clock ticks for both Congress and BJP but as of now, Congress has survived the bout to stay in the ring as a credible challenger for 2019 elections which a year back was being thought a cakewalk for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed above are the personal views of the author and do not reflect the views of ZMCL)