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CWC wants Rahul to replace Sonia Gandhi as Congress president: What works for him, what doesn’t

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi’s much expected elevation as the party’s chief is likely to boost the grand old party. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of Rahul Gandhi the leader.

india Updated: Nov 21, 2017 20:02 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Rahul Gandhi,Congress president,CWC resolution
Congress party president Sonia Gandhi, right, with party vice president and her son Rahul Gandhi, left, talks to Karan Singh during the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting in New Delhi.(AP Photo)

Rahul Gandhi is likely to take over as the Cong president as early as Dec. 5, the day of the scrutiny of his nomination papers.

Here is a look at the strengths and weaknesses of the man on whom the Cong is pinning its hopes to change its fortunes:

Strengths

Connects with the youth: Bringing the youth into political mainstream has been the motto of the 47-year-old leader. To achieve this, he initiated internal elections in the Youth Congress and the NSUI, the party’s students’ wing. The youth are able to easily relate to Gandhi and his recent interactions with students in India and abroad have turned the mood in the Congress upbeat. The ease with which he fields questions and his social media savvy have endeared him to younger followers.

Ready to experiment: His experiments to strengthen the organisation have often failed, be it the so-called democratisation process (internal elections) in the Youth Congress or primaries-style selection of candidates for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. But he remains undeterred. He has set up new departments such as Fishermen Congress, Unorganised Workers Congress and Overseas Congress, among others.

Democratic working style: Rahul allows party colleagues to speak their mind. He listens to all shades of opinions including those expressed by rivals within party units.

Hard worker: Rahul is known to put in long hours, be it his pada yatras or sustained poll campaigns. His sustained election campaign in Gujarat has charged up the workers.

Weaknesses

Consensus-driven: His endeavour to build consensus is seen as a virtue by his party colleagues, but it sometimes results in delayed decisions. He has been holding consultations with party leaders from Madhya Pradesh and Odisha for over six months, but the appointment of party chiefs in these states has not been made yet. Over a year after Capt Amarinder Singh, the then Deputy Leader of the Lok Sabha, resigned from the House, the party hasn’t found his replacement.

Down-to-earth oratorical approach: As opposed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is able to deliver rousing speeches, Gandhi’s style is more conversational. However, his recent speeches, laced with wit, humour and sarcasm, have been receiving rave reviews.

Perception management: Rahul has often faced criticism from his political adversaries for being a ‘reluctant politician’, a charge they seek to validate by citing his frequent breaks. They have also tried to project him as an inexperienced politician, but there has been a substantial change in the public perception in the past few months.

Did not join government: Gandhi consistently declined to join the government during UPA rule. Though an able party administrator, his skills in government remain untested.

First Published: Nov 20, 2017 17:11 IST