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Facing Humiliating Loss, Should Rahul Gandhi Resign as Congress President?

Rahul Gandhi

Riding on a massive Modi wave sweeping through most parts of India, the BJP was set to return to power as it led in 295 seats while the Congress trailed far behind with 50, according to trends by the Election Commission for all 542 seats that went to polls.

Rahul Gandhi is facing a tough fight against BJP’s Smriti Irani with the fiery right-wing leader leading against the Congress President from Amethi, according to early trends. The fight has been neck and neck between the two leaders. If Smriti Irani wins against Rahul Gandhi, it will be the biggest upset of this year’s Lok Sabha elections. It remains to be seen if Rahul Gandhi can catch up and avoid a defeat in the pocket borough of the Congress. Rahul is facing anti-incumbency in Amethi, even after star campaigner Priyanka Gandhi threw her full might behind the leader in Amethi for the Lok Sabha Elections 2019.

The question that arises after the latest trends of Lok Sabha election results is, should Rahul Gandhi resign if Congress loses this general election?

Indian National Congress (INC) President Rahul Gandhi’s announcement to contest in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections from Kerala’s Wayanad district in addition to his Amethi stronghold had surprised many and raised important questions about the strategic impulses behind the move. The move to contest from two Assemblies, Amethi and Wayanad, was hinting that Rahul might lose from Amethi as predicted by many political pundits. Was Rahul Gandhi’s candidature from Wayanad seen as a backup plan in case he loses from their stronghold seat?

Congress president Rahul Gandhi could be staring at another crisis, despite his best efforts to inflict electoral damage on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), if the polling trends are proved right. The results will be particularly significant for the Congress as the 2019 poll is the first general election the party is contesting under the leadership of Gandhi, who took over as party president in December 2017. Gandhi has introduced a series of changes, including striking a balance between the old guard, which prefers the status quo, and young blood with fresh ideas. The exit poll predictions, therefore, give a peek into the challenges in store for Gandhi.

The party has even lost its ability to stitch together clever coalitions. Despite having emerged as the single-largest party in Punjab, the Congress has been outmanoeuvred by the BJP in stitching alliances and forming governments. The Congress’ image and organisation are both in such bad shape that pre-poll alliances with regional parties didn’t improve its prospects—indeed they reduced the votes of its regional partners in Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, and UP.

So the question is, who will be the next Congress president if Rahul Gandhi resigns?

In the run-up to the 2014 general elections as well, there were reports that Priyanka was “all set to play a bigger role in the upcoming general elections”. “There has been speculation in recent months on whether Priyanka, who has so far confined her politics to campaign for her mother Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli (her constituency), would take a plunge into politics full-time. Her participating in the meeting today fuelled further speculation,” The Economic Times had reported back in 2014.

Behind the constant buzz around Priyanka’s political entry was the understated belief she was always seen as more of a natural leader than her brother, Congress President Rahul Gandhi, who was seen as reserved by some.

The latest entrant into politics from India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had made her debut in politics February months before the general elections. Congress President Rahul Gandhi pulled a surprise by appointing his younger sister a party general secretary. She was also the party’s face in Uttar Pradesh, the state that sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament and is currently dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

It’s not just about Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is famous for her striking resemblance to the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the Congress has made sure to exploit the gene factor.

So the question still stands. Facing a humiliating loss (even Congress’ ‘NYAY’ didn’t work), will Rahul Gandhi resign as party president?



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