Taking the Reins
After much delay and speculation, the Indian National Congress has finally appointed Rahul Gandhi as its Vice President. While delivering his speech for the first time in his new role, Gandhi chose to address the 1,200 party delegates in Hindi, in an attempt to reach out to the youth of India. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was also part of the ceremony, which signified the young Gandhi’s rise to the power echelons of the Indian Congress. With elections on the horizon, the party is hopeful to portray Rahul as the main candidate for the post of prime minister. Although elevating his status to VP is a leap ahead for the Gandhi family, po- litical analysts argue that this is a mere formality. In addition, Gandhi will also provide an advantage to his party in the state elections, scheduled to take place in the northeast states and in Karnataka. Furthermore, his ascent as the second in command of the party will bring him face-to-face with Narenda Modi, a contentious leader of the Bharatiya Janata Party, in the 2014 elections.
However, Rahul’s appointment comes during testing times for the Congress Party, which is introducing reforms to revive the country’s declining economy. Moreover, the party is coping with the public outrage caused by the gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi in December. With much looming in the background, the Indian National Congress also faces an internal crisis with political heavyweights debating Rahul Gandhi’s eventual rise to the throne of the Indian Congress.