Rising Rahul Gandhi

Bhubaneswar: Rahul Gandhi stayed away from the public sphere for much of his childhood and early youth, because of security concerns. At the age of 34 in 2004, he entered politics and successfully contested the general elections held that year from Amethi, a seat that was earlier held by his father; he won again from the constituency in 2009 and 2014.

In 2007, Rahul was named General Secretary of the Indian National Congress. In 2013, he Rahul was elected Congress Vice-President. In 2017 he took over as the president of the oldest national party.

According to MOTN survey in August 2018, Rahul Gandhi emerged as best suited alternative to Narendra Modi.

The India Today poll, which was conducted from 20 December 2018 to 8 January 2019, showed Modi’s popularity rating at 46%. That’s down from 65% in January 2017, a little over a month after he announced a nationwide ban of 500- and 1,000-rupee notes. Rahul, the main challenger to Modi and leader of the opposition Congress party, has seen his ratings rise from a low of 10% two years ago to his all-time high of 34%, 12 percentage points shy of Modi.

What makes Rahul Gandhi popular among masses and different from other politicians?

Here are few reasons:

  • First and foremost is the amount of criticism Rahul Gandhi is taking from all the people within is party and also outside his party making jokes and writing posts and comments about him. It really takes a lot of guts to face that kind of criticism.
  • Media criticizes him, other parties mock him, Twitter accounts troll him.But say what, he doesn’t give a damn. Had it be someone else, he/she would have filed a criminal defamation case against them, he has learnt to bear it.
  • After obtaining degrees in international relations and development studies at the universities of Rollins and Cambridge, Gandhi worked at the Monitor Group, a management consulting firm in London, before establishing the Mumbai-based technology outsourcing firm, Backops Services Private Ltd.
  • On 27 September 2013, Gandhi openly criticised the Prime Minister of India and his own government for coming out with an ordinance to undo the effect of the order passed by the Supreme Court of India by which convicted criminals could not contest elections. Although it may seem as a political move but he did oppose the bill whereas others (even BJP and other parties) were supporting for the bill.
  • He pushed for six pieces of draft legislation: namely the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill; the Whistle Blowers Protection Bill; the Right of Citizens for Time Bound Delivery of Goods and Services and Redressal of their Grievances Bill; the Prevention of Bribery of Foreign Public Officials and Officials of Public International Organisations Bill; the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill and the Public Procurement Bill.
  • He has pushed for the empowerment of women. He backed the Women’s Reservation Bill which would allow 33% reservation of all Lok Sabha and state legislative assembly seats for women. This bill passed the Rajya Sabha on 9 March 2010 but has not yet been voted on by the Lok Sabha as of February 2014. Gandhi has also backed the decriminalisation of homosexuality.
  • Initally Gandhi was seen as the symbol of youth and it is evident from the fact that under him the IYC and NSUI have seen a dramatic increase in members from 200,000 to 2.5 million.
  • On 11 May 2011, Gandhi was arrested by the Uttar Pradesh police at Bhatta Parsaul village after he turned out in support of agitating farmers demanding more compensation for their land being acquired for a highway project. Rahul stood with the farmers for over 15 hours as they were demanding their rights. So in a way he does stood with the farmers as is he doing now.
  • Accepting defeats is a good thing about Rahul Gandhi. Most of the politicians can’t accept the defeats. They make inappropriate and false statements after the loss. They try to mislead people just because they couldn’t digest the defeat. But Rahul Gandhi is not one of them.

Here are few interesting and unknown facts about Rahul.

  • Education: Rahul Gandhi’s education and work experience shows that he is among the most educated politicians in India. He did his schooling from the prestigious Doon School, Dehradun. He got his B.A. from Rollins College, Florida in 1994. He received an M.Phil. in Development Studies in 1995 from Trinity College, Cambridge.
  • Corporate Leadership: He has corporate work experience and a Masters degree in development studies which makes him the perfect person who can understand business issues and international commercial negotiations. After graduation, he worked at the Monitor Group, a management consulting firm, in London. In 2002, he was one of the directors of Mumbai-based technology outsourcing firm Backops Services Private Ltd.
  • Kind Human Being: Rahul Gandhi has been known to contribute in charity and to needy people along with his sister in Amethi, Rae Bareli region. His close aides describe him as a sensitive and emotional person who never shuts his door for the poor and prefers working for such causes without getting into limelight. A recent example was when Nirbhaya’s mother divulged how he helped his son to become a pilot.
  • Martial Art: Rahul Gandhi can be described as the fittest politician in the country. He follows an intense workout regime which requires hard work and dedication. Apart from regular gym, swimming, and jog, he is also a black-belt in the Japanese Martial Art Aikido.
  • Hard Work: Rahul Gandhi has been a part of so many ground level agitations and campaigns. He championed the cause of farmers and put forward their grievances due to which the controversial provisions of Land Acquisition Act were taken back. Rahul Gandhi consistently spends time with poor people and those at the bottom of the social pyramid to understand their issues better and bring them into limelight of political debate.
  • Sense of Humor: In spite of continuous target and malicious campaigns being run against him, Rahul Gandhi is strong and his sense of humor seems to be only getting better.
  • Personal Life: He is not hiding anything about his personal life.  In 2004, Gandhi had told the press that he had a Spanish girlfriend, an architect, living in Venezuela, whom he had met while studying in England. In 2013, he suggested that he may not get married.

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About the Author

Odisha Story Bureau
A team of young journalists headed by Subhransu Panda, founder-editor of Odisha's leading news portal and magazine Odisha Story. Mail: editor@odishastory.com
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