Rahul Gandhi on Sunday completed his first year as the Congress president which was capped by the party’s victory, by edging out rival BJP, in three states Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Chhattisgarh.
The first anniversary of Gandhi scion as party chief comes at a time when three of his party leaders are to be sworn-in as chief ministers.
In a time when the political discourse is being dominated by the slogans of ‘Congress Mukt Bharat’, Gandhi’s first-year story at the helm of party affairs was not only of survival but also of the revival of the party.
It was last year on this day that he was elected unopposed as the party’s president, succeeding his mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.
The 48-year-old is the fifth person from the Gandhi-Nehru family to head the Grand Old Party.
Under his leadership, the Congress registered the first victory in January 2018, when the party won the bye-elections for Alwar and Ajmer Lok Sabha constituency, both of which were previously held by BJP.
He, however, couldn’t save the party from facing defeat in Meghalaya state assembly elections, where the alliance government of Congress and United Democratic Party was uprooted to pave way for National People’s Party-led government.
Defeated but not demoralised, Congress marched ahead and registered its first major victory in May under his leadership by winning the popular vote, leaving no elbow space for the BJP, and stitched up an alliance with JD-S to form the government.
Gandhi not only worked on political turnarounds but also worked hard towards changing his as well as his party’s image.
He strived hard to shed the minority-favouring image of the party by moving from one temple to another, presenting himself as an ardent follower of Lord Shiva and also embarking on a Kailash Mansarovar Yatra.
The Congress under Gandhi’s leadership also became more social media savvy. The Twitter and Facebook space which were primarily dominated by BJP witnessed a fierce competition from the Congress as part of the refreshed strategy.
In coming times, his political understanding will be on test based on his ability to forge a grand-alliance of non-BJP forces.
As of now, after the electoral win in the three key states, the Gandhi scion is sounding more confident than ever, looks fiercer to take-on his opposition yet the real test of his leadership would be the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)