New Delhi, November 22: Rahul Gandhi is all set to take over as the Congress president soon. Leading a 130-year-old political party, which has been struggling to match the intensity shown by the main Opposition party – Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – will be a daunting task for the 47-year-old leader. Rahul Gandhi, a three-time MP, has many challenges waiting him on the top post. He will not only have to take both the young and old guards of the party together but also win elections and faith the people of the country once had in Congress.Also Read - Manmohan Singh Health Update: Former Prime Minister's Condition Stable, Says AIIMS Official
In the next few days, Rahul will be officially named the Congress president and would take the charge from his mother and current party president Sonia Gandhi, who led the Congress to victory in 2004 and 2009 Lok Sabha elections. The year 2018 will witness elections in several states — Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Chhattisgarh. Presently, the Congress is ruling Karnataka, Meghalaya, Mizoram. If the Congress manages to retain these states, it will be seen as first major victory for Rahul. (Also read: How Rahul Gandhi Has Been Building His Own Team Ahead of Taking Charge as Congress Chief) Also Read - Navjot Singh Sidhu to Continue As Punjab Congress Chief, Has Withdrawn Resignation: Harish Rawat
In order to prove his negotiation skills and outreach, the party must avoid the Goa and Manipur fiasco. Despite emerging as the single largest party in Goa and Manipur in state polls in March this year, the Congress failed to form government in both the states. The BJP, on other hand, stuck a deal with other parties and Independents to form governments in both the states. Also Read - World's Largest Political Party...: Uddhav Thackeray Takes Dig at Former Ally
The results would also set tone for the 2019 general elections, which will be the biggest challenge for Rahul. The Congress had hit a bottom rock after being decimated in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections as it managed to win just 44 seats. However, the tally rose to 46 after the party managed to get favourable results in Chitrakoot and Gurdaspur Lok Sabha by elections. Unable to counter the ‘Narendra Modi wave’ and manage regional parties hold, the Congress has lost several states where it was in power for decades. At present, the Congress is in power in only six states.
Man Management Issues
Apart from winning elections, another headache for Rahul Gandhi would be to manage the party’s young brigade and the old guards. He will have to manage party affairs with young leaders without completely sidelining the veterans. In the last few months, Congress has lost senior leaders Himanta Biswa Sarma, Arvinder Singh Lovely, SM Krishna, Jayanthi Natarajan, Chaudhary Birender Singh and many more. All these leaders accused the Congress leadership of ignoring them.
There has been a change in strategy in the recent past and state leaders have been seen carrying the mantle. In Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh led the party. In Karnataka, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah is in control of things. In Himachal Pradesh, Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh led the party’s campaign in the Assembly elections from the front.
Another challenge for Rahul would be to revive grassroot level workers. Over the years, the party has lost ground level workers across the country. In Madhya Pradesh, Jyotiraditya Scindia is being seen spearheading many issues and in Rajasthan it is Sachin Pilot who is leading the charge. Other young leaders include RPN Singh, Ramya Divyaspandana, Sushmita Dev, Randeep Singh Surjewala who are part of Rahul’s new team.
Many organisational changes were also witnessed in the party where senior party leaders were relieved of their charges and a young leader is being give the responsibility. Ahead of Gujarat Assembly elections, former Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot was appointed as general secretary in-charge for the state in place of Gurudas Kamat. In April, senior Congress leader Digvijaya Singh was removed as party’s general secretary in-charge Karnataka and Goa. The Congress also relieved Digvijaya Singh as AICC in-charge of Telangana and named RC Khuntia as state in-charge and Satish Jarkiholi as AICC Secretary.
Apart from managing his own party, Rahul has to effectively reach out to allies to take on the BJP unitedly. Recently, he took Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Tejashwi Yadav out for lunch. Earlier this year, he met veteran DMK leader M Karunanidhi at his residence in Chennai. Congress and DMK joined hands for Tamil Nadu polls. Even though the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance had to face a humiliation in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the alliance is still going strong and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav is backing Congress in the upcoming Gujarat polls.