New Delhi: The resurgent Congress has come as a shot in the arm for the party President Rahul Gandhi. It has been exactly a year since Mr Gandhi officially took over the reigns of the party from his mother Sonia Gandhi. The performance of the Congress in the Hindi heartland has bolstered the image of Mr Gandhi who now has become the principal challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
In the current round of five-state Assembly elections Mr Gandhi addressed over 82 rallies crisscrossing five states.
The journey for the Gandhi scion has not been an easy one. Under constant attack and ridicule from the BJP Mr Gandhi not only withstood the onslaught but also paid back the BJP in its own coin. Often termed as ‘Pappu’ or ‘Clown Prince’ the Congress chief took the attack to the BJP with his witty repartee on social media during the Gujarat assembly election in December 2017.
Though his party lost but it was the best performance since 1992 that the Congress put up in Gujarat. Personal allegations were also made against him and his family from the top leadership of the BJP. But Mr Gandhi did not go down the personal insult route instead stuck on issues like jobs, farmer crisis, condition of small business. He even expelled senior leader Mr Mani Shankar Aiyar from the party for his use of intemperate language against the Prime Minister.
In the recent election campaign Mr Gandhi chided senior leader Mr C.P. Joshi in Rajasthan for using caste-based language. Mr Gandhi’s big challenge came when the Congress fell short of a majority in Karnataka and swiftly the party aligned with the JD(S) giving them the post of the Chief Minister. This ensured that the Congress retains the state of Karnataka.
Meanwhile, A clear win for the BJP in the next General Elections appears more challenging after its worst electoral setbacks since 2014 with a resurgent Congress getting better of it in saffron strongholds. It barely scraped through in the Gujarat assembly polls last year, and its now poor show in the three states coupled with the likely alliance of the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh has made the road ahead much more difficult for the party.
Results show that the BJP has fared poorly in rural regions, underlining the need for the party to challenge issues like farm distress and unemployment. Some BJP leaders acknowledged that the party would have to revisit its strategy and work on its messaging, while emphasising that it can be done only after results are analysed threadbare....