It might sound really funny that someone wants to write about Rahul Gandhi when he is going through the worst ever phase of his political career. But the key thing to note here is that he still figures in the top 5 most important politicians of the day. The list comprises of Narendra Modi, Amit Shah, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and the Yadavs (Mulayam Singh & Lalu Prasad – they both control 15% of Rajya Sabha and their strength is bound to increase in next few years). So, lets talk about Rahul Gandhi and his amusing evolution in Indian politics.
The hype phase – There was a tremendous amount of hype surrounding Mr.Gandhi’s entry into Indian politics. Sonia Gandhi was always looked as someone carrying the baton till Rahul Gandhi takes over. Congressmen had something unknown to look forward to and one of the reasons why they did very well in 2004 General Elections, even when it looked like NDA had a strong case. So, the hype phase completed once Mr Gandhi got elected to Lok Sabha in 2004. The fact that he chose his late fathers Amethi constituency made Congressmen even more excited.
Rise of the phoenix – Well, the problem is this phoenix never took off. 2004 to 2009 was a period when UPA was at its peak. While no one missed Rahul Gandhi, it became apparent that Mr Gandhi himself was also in no hurry to make any impact on his party. He did try to rejuvenate his party with some attempts to bring internal democracy. But how can he reform the very fundamentals using which he himself assumed a crucial role in that party? So, for 5 long years, he was there in the political circles, was present in Parliament but hardly anyone noticed him.
Road to perdition – 2010 to 2016 will go down in the history as Rahul Gandhi’s worst years in politics. Or, will there be more? In any case, UPA-II was his by massive scams starting 2010 and all Rahul Gandhi did was to watch from sidelines as his Government simply could not deal with crisis one after the other. Take one look at the highly inconsequential speech he made in Parliament during the peak of anti-Government, pro-Lokpal protests
And then he was pitched against super powerful and extremely popular CM from Gujarat, Narendra Modi. Rahul lacked everything that Modi had. This propelled Congress party to its lowest total in post independence India. The number 44 is very important for Mr Gandhi – that was his age in 2014 and that was the number of MPs Congress party could get elected to Lok Sabha in elections that year. An unreasonably obstructive attitude in Parliament is not helping Congress party in any way either.
Rebirth or final countdown – A string of defeats in Assembly elections in 2014, 2015 and 2016 has put Rahul Gandhi at a point of no return. Almost. His only hope of making a comeback in Indian politics or even sustaining in politics for few more years hinge largely on what happens in Punjab. Because Punjab is the only state where Congress has more than 50% chances of getting back to power. All his strong supporters need just once success and Rahul will have his lifeline. Congress is most likely to make a come back in Punjab and hence we may not have seen the end of Rahul’s political career, just yet. But if Congress loses Punjab, Mr Gandhi might formally announce his retirement from politics. Remember, he is not one of those seasoned politicians for whom victories and defeats are just part of the job. The closest success Rahul Gandhi had was in UP Lok Sabha polls in 2009. But that is just one rare instance in a political career spanning 12 years.