The elevation of Amethi MP Rahul Gandhi to the post of Congress general secretary had been a foregone conclusion.
It was only a question of when it would happen. With the prospect of mid-term elections looming large, the Congress answered that question with its announcement on Monday.
Rahul’s political career graph has been on a steady incline since March 2004, when he declared that he would contest the Lok Sabha elections. In May that year, Rahul won the seat his father and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi had held and
nurtured till his death.
Nine months later, the first-time MP led a sit-in protest in Parliament against frequent disruptions of parliamentary proceedings by opposition MPs.
Since his entry into politics, Rahul Gandhi has always been packaged as the party’s youth icon. And in that role, he recently opposed UP Chief Minister Mayawati’s decision to ban students’ union elections in the state.
In January 2006, the Congress Plenary sessions were interrupted by party workers shouting slogans for a bigger role for Rahul. Finally, the Amethi MP was brought to the dais, where he said he would wait for the right time to take on bigger responsibilities.
He made a brief but emotive speech the next day, in which he said: “The tricolour is my religion”. In March 2006, when Sonia Gandhi resigned from the Lok Sabha to put an end to the office of profit controversy, Rahul moved closer to the bigger role. He stepped in as the campaign manager for his mother’s re-election.
He spent over a fortnight travelling through villages in Rae Bareli, canvassing for his mother and picking up lessons in public appearance. Sonia returned to the Lok Sabha with a thumping majority and the party officially congratulated Rahul for his efforts.
It was then that the Congress president announced that the Amethi MP would be given “greater responsibility” in the party.
Rahul plunged into the campaign during the Assembly election in UP earlier this year and though the Congress’s political fortunes did not change, observers say the slide would have been bigger if he did not involve himself.