The Congress on Monday announced that its presidential election process will begin on December 1. The announcement was made at the current party president Sonia Gandhi’s residence in Janpath, New Delhi where the senior members of the party met. The timeline of election was also announced.
The announcement is however seen as virtually signalling the elevation of Rahul Gandhi – the current vice president of the party – to the top job.
However, the Congress has said that aspirants for the post of Congress president must come forward by December 4. If someone in the party does challenge Rahul Gandhi, an election will be held on December 15 and results would be declared on December 19.
Once elected around mid-December as widely expected, Mr. Gandhi will replace his mother Sonia Gandhi and head the 132-year-old party that counts Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel as its past presidents.
Effectively, Rahul Gandhi is likely to be elected the Congress boss before the Gujarat assembly elections, which begin on December 9, the first of two days of voting. The Gujarat polling results will be announced on December 18.
At the meeting, Mr Gandhi spoke about what he called “the lack of development in Gujarat,” the home state of both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP chief Amit Shah. Rahul Gandhi said the BJP is on the defensive; the Congress Vice President is leading an aggressive bid by his party to reclaim power in Gujarat, ruled by the BJP for the last 22 years.
The current party president, Sonia Gandhi had said last month that Rahul Gandhi, seen as waiting in the wings for years, would be elevated soon. Mrs Gandhi has been Congress President since 1998, making her the longest-serving chief of the party. She has been unwell in recent years and has scaled back her public engagements, which has meant Rahul Gandhi being at the forefront.
A win-win situation?
Here is a breakdown of the schedule for the election as announced by Congress:
- The date of notification for candidates is set for December 1 and last date of filing nominations is December 4.
- The nominations will be scrutinised on December 5 and on the same day the list of valid nomination would be published.
- Until and unless there is another candidate in the fray besides Rahul Gandhi, the result of the Congress’ presidential election would be out for all practical purposes on December 5 itself.
- To meet the formalities, the last date for withdrawal of candidature is December 11 and the final list of contesting candidates would also be announced later the same day.
Rahul Gandhi – Early life and Political career
Rahul Gandhi, born on 19 June 1970 in Delhi, is the elder of the two children of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, who now holds an Indian citizenship. His younger sister, Priyanka Vadra, is married to Robert Vadra, a Delhi-based businessman. Rahul Gandhi initially attended the St. Columba’s School in Delhi before moving to The Doon School in Dehradun, from 1981 to 1983.
Gandhi then shifted to Rollins College, Florida, where he completed his Bachelors in 1994. By 1995, he completed his M.Phil. in Development Studies from the Trinity College of Cambridge.
A Member of Parliament from Amethi, Uttar Pradesh and Member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on External Affairs, he currently serves as the vice-president of the Congress party, the chairperson of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India. He is the second-highest-ranked member of the CWC.
In 2004, he was elected to the Lok Sabha from Amethi constituency. Rahul Gandhi was a prominent party figure who campaigned in the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. In September 2007, he became the general secretary of the Indian Youth Congress and also of National Students’ Union of India.
During the 2012 Assembly elections, he campaigned in Uttar Pradesh for almost two months, holding 200 rallies. Congress won 28 seats in the state, which is six seats more compared with the 2007 elections. However, the party acquired the fourth position in the state.
On 19 January 2013, Rahul Gandhi was appointed as the Congress vice president in a party conclave of the All India Congress Committee in Jaipur. Rahul Gandhi won from Amethi constituency in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
However in 2014, Congress, suffered its worst electoral defeat at the hands of Modi’s BJP.
The Congress would look to revamp its approach towards politics as it prepares to enter a new era with Rahul Gandhi at its helm; starting with Gujarat elections. Gandhi, who more often than not, has found himself on the wrong end of media jibes and public ridicule, would have his work cutout in convincing the public that he is worthy of the new role.