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Journey of Rahul Gandhi in Last 10 years, his strength & weakness in a glance

The ups and downs of Rahul Gandhi's career in the past 10 years:

rhgandhimainAfter much speculation, the Congress on Thursday decided that Rahul Gandhi will lead the party in the 2014 polls but stopped short of announcing him as the party's Prime Ministerial nominee. While he assumes charge here is a look at Rahul's political career over the past ten years.

From being a reluctant entrant in 2004 to now being projected as the one person who can take the Congress out of its present chaos, the wheel has turned a full circle for Rahul Gandhi. He has been an apprentice for far too long, refusing to take up any position within the government.

"I will be only too happy if Rahul was to be a minister. I think he is the right person to be the PM candidate," Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said.

Now pitched against the fire power of Narendra Modi, Rahul must work out his own path. He has shown some signs of coming out of his own self imposed isolation.
Rahul had earlier in 2013 taken a strong stand against an ordinance backed by his party which would have prevented the disqualification of convicted MPs. "I think this ordinance is nonsense," Rahul had said. This uncharacteristic straight talk against his own government move of passing an ordinance to bail out convicted MPs was the most recent example.

He followed it up with his disagreement on rejection of Adarsh report. "If you ask me I think the Adarsh report should be accepted," he said.
But before positioning himself as an anti-corruption crusader, Rahul had positioned himself as the soldier of the aam aadmi. Whether it was his decision of batting for farmers in Bhatta Parsaul or describing himself as a 'sipaahi' of tribals in Odisha, Rahul has been trying to occupy the left of centre space within the Congress. While the Gandhi surname remains his biggest calling card, his recent track record as a leader leaves a lot to be desired.

His biggest debacle so far was Uttar Pradesh. This was one state which saw Rahul Gandhi immerse himself for a full blooded battle, from rolling his sleeves up during speeches to changing his own speech style.
Yet knives have been out against him. BJP Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi attacked him as 'shehzada' in many of his speeches.
Rahul Gandhi said he wants to build a Congress which has 30 PM candidates and not just one, which has several CM candidates in states, not just one. He talks of structural changes within the Congress, taking the Congress away from the cult of dynasties. But his efforts haven't yielded electoral dividends so far. As he gears up for 2014, all that he has done over the past ten years will once again be up for another grueling scrutiny.

Rahul Gandhi's strengths and weaknesses :

Nine years after Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi announced his entry into politics, all eyes are now on him as the country gets ready for the 16th Lok Sabha elections. While a large section of the Congress wants him to be named the party's prime ministerial candidate, his rivals say he is not fit be a leader.

Rahul Gandhi was appointed the General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee on September 24, 2007 in a reshuffle of the party. In November, 2008 he handpicked 40 people to constitute the Indian Yputh Congress think tank. In May, 2009 he led the Congress revival in Uttar Pradesh where the party won 21 Lok Sabha seats. On January 19, 2013, Rahul Gandhi formally took charge as party Vice President.

He has portrayed himself as a uniter of the country and condemned "divisive" politics in India, saying that he would try to reduce caste and religious tensions. His strength on which congress wanting to cash on Lok sabha 2014:

He has a youthful image
He has no challengers within the Congress to his leadership
He is ready to accept mistakes
He made an effort to bring internal democracy in the youth Congress
He doesn't appear to hanker for power
He took a public stand against the ordinance shielding convicted MPs
The most pivotal strength is his family surname

However, the criticisms Rahul faces are:
He has been unable to deliver in key states, including UP
His administrative skills are untested
He appears raw and inexperienced in his public speeches
He has mostly remained non-communicative in the last 10 years
His poor performance in Parliament
He hasn't taken up on a sustained basis
Family surname can be a weakness at times also

The Lok Sabha MP from Amethi had also come under fire for some out of the box statements and moves:
Rahul had said, "Dalits must have the escape velocity of Jupiter."
In September 2013 Rahul rejected the government's decision to issue ordinance that helps convicted leaders. Rahul said, "The ordinance should be torn and thrown away."
In August 2013 he said, "Poverty is just a state of mind. It does not mean the scarcity of food, money or material things. If one possesses self-confidence, then one can overcome poverty."

In November 2011, he courted controversy during a rally when he asked the people of UP to stop migrating and 'begging' in Maharashtra. "Till when you will go begging for jobs in Maharashtra and Punjab," he said.

In August 2011 he wanted the Lokpal to become a constitutional body. "Don't agree with the view that one Lokpal Bill will end corruption," Rahul had stressed.
In May 2011 he misled the nation on alleged rape and killings at Bhatta-Parsaul in Greater Noida. Rahul said, "There is a set of 74 (mounds of) ashes there with dead bodies inside. We can give you pictures. Women have been raped, people have been thrashed."

In April 2007 Rahul had boasted about the accomplishments of the Gandhi family saying, "When my family decides to do anything, it does it. Be it freedom struggle, division of Pakistan or taking India to the 21st century."
In March 2007, he had claimed, "Had Gandhi family been there in politics (at that time), Babri Masjid demolition would not have taken place."
It is expected that the Congress will announce Rahul's role for the upcoming general elections in the AICC meeting on January 17.

However the immediate challenges Rahul faces is the rising popularity of the BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and the debutant political party, the AAP.

In 2004, Rahul Gandhi had won from Amethi and had retained the family stronghold with a margin of over 100,000, but it seems it won't be that easy for him this time with AAP leader Kumar Vishwas openly challenging him by saying that he will contest from the same constituency.

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