For Rahul, it’s a long road ahead to Lok Kalyan Marg

The Sunday Guardian - - Nation -

Fi­nally, Congress pres­i­dent Rahul Gandhi has de­cided that he is here to stay. Dur­ing the Kar­nataka poll cam­paign, he an­nounced that he would be the Congress party’s can­di­date for prime min­is­ter­ship if his party emerges as the sin­gle largest one in the 2019 Lok Sabha elec­tions. Cer­tainly, he has walked a long way in the past five years from his own anal­ogy of “satta za­har hai (power is poi­son)” state­ment.

How­ever, for Rahul Gandhi, the route to 7 Lok Kalyan Marg (LKM) goes through sev­eral other states; here, there’s no short­cut from 24 Ak­bar Road. More im­por­tantly, it’s a long climb from 44 MPs to 272 and con­ven­tional wis­dom has it that Congress will need the help of al­lies to put Rahul Gandhi in the PMO.

Rahul Gandhi has been work­ing over­time to reach out to sym­pa­thetic al­lies. Last week, he did a rather pub­lic U-turn on his ear­lier stance against tainted politi­cians when he called on the jailed Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Ya­dav while he was at the AIIMS. The out­reach worked, for the RJD was the first to wel­come Rahul Gandhi’s state­ment.

Party Ra­jya Sabha mem­ber Manoj Jha said, “RJD be­lieves that there is noth­ing wrong if Rahul Gandhi says that if INC be­comes the sin­gle-largest party, he is ready to be­come the PM. Of all the play­ers at the na­tional level, the Congress has the max­i­mum foot­print.”

The Sa­ma­jwadi Party (SP) and the Na­tion­al­ist Congress Party (NCP) have not com­mented on Rahul Gandhi’s lat­est am­bi­tion; both Akhilesh Ya­dav and Sharad Pawar have a cor­dial equa­tion with him. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the BJP lost two by­polls in Ut­tar Pradesh, Rahul Gandhi had called on Sharad Pawar and his daugh­ter Surpiya Sule in March. While most of the se­nior lead­ers of NCP de­clined to com­ment on Rahul Gandhi’s PM am­bi­tions, NCP spokesper­son Nawab Ma­lik made it clear that Sharad Pawar is out of race.

Rahul Gandhi’s main prob­lem will not be al­lies like the RJD, NCP, SP and Na­tional Con­fer­ence (NC), but in­stead, those re­gional satraps who nur­ture prime min­is­te­rial am­bi­tions of their own, such as Ma­mata Ban­ner­jee or even TRS chief Chan­dresekhar Rao. TMC RS MP Sukhendu Shekhar Rao hedged his an­swer, say­ing: “Whether it’s Rahul Gandhi or any other leader, un­til or un­less he is put on a job, how can his suc­cess and fail­ure be judged.” But what he did not say is that un­like Rahul Gandhi, Ma­mata Ban­ner­jee has a proven track record and cer­tainly rates her claims higher than the Congress chief’s.

She has also been hob­nob­bing with other re­gional sa- traps to put to­gether a nonCongress, non-BJP fed­eral front.

Both she and the TRS chief have reached out to Naveen Pat­naik, M.K. Stalin, Ud­dhav Thack­eray, Akhilesh Ya­dav, Shibu Soren, Dushyant Chau­tala and Deve Gowda. These at­tempts, if re­alised on the ground, will prove detri­men­tal to the Congress pres­i­dent’s prospects.

The Congress’ po­lit­i­cal res­o­lu­tion for 2018 men­tions that it will reach out to like-minded par­ties for an al­liance in 2019, but the Congress is yet to start the process. Rahul also un­der­stands the fact that with­out al­lies, his at­tempt to reach 7 LKM may well prove to be a fu­tile ex­er­cise un­less he can con­vince oth­ers of his cred­i­bil­ity.

The re­sult of the Kar­nataka elec­tion will cer­tainly de­cide which way the wind will blow in 2019. Apart from this, there are three oth­ers states which will go to polls by the end of this year, and where there will be a straight fight be­tween the Congress and the BJP.

These are bound to turn into a Rahul Gandhi vs Naren­dra Modi semi fi­nal for 2019. If Rahul Gandhi notches a cred­i­ble score, then he has a chance of con­vinc­ing other al­lies of his cre­den­tials of tak­ing on the PM in the 2019 bat­tle. If not, then well, he may as well shift his prime min­is­te­rial goal post to 2024 and let some other leader with heft take on Modi.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.