Finally, Rahul ready for rough and tumble
Finally, Rahul ready for rough and tumble

The Congress' D-day has arrived. After much dilly-dallying, the Congress Working Committee (CWC) has announced the poll schedule for the election of Sonia Gandhi's successor. The rest is now a formality. Rahul's anointment is all set to take place soon after the Gujarat elections. These are times of trepidation for the Congress and its allies. Rahul had undergone a rigorous image makeover test in the recent times. Whether his stock has really grown among the people and within the party is to be seen.

The revamped social media infrastructure of the Congress has certainly helped Rahul Gandhi salvage some image in the last few weeks. The crowds at the election meetings in Gujarat have been quite encouraging for the party, though the outcome could be otherwise. Still, there is little to suggest that Rahul Gandhi has played a key role in shaping the Gujarat campaign. The seniors continue to have their say here. The sloppy arrangement with the three angry young men of Gujarat – Hardik, Jignesh and Alpesh – goes to prove that Rahul's intervention had no salutary effect on the goings-on.

But, the party is gearing up to project even a moderate performance here as Rahul's glorious innings and also has lined up a cushioning argument in addition to blame the EVMs just in case. Controversial demonetisation and the GST that have affected the small and medium traders and the rising unemployment have given Rahul the ammunition to fire his salvos against the BJP but to take on the might of the Modi-Shah combine, he requires to shape up further before the 2019 general elections.

As far as his own party is concerned, Rahul Gandhi's probation is not yet over. Though, he may have the benefit of his mother's counseling constantly, it is not going to be easier for him to handle the battle-scarred veterans of his party. His efforts to usher in young blood at all levels would take time and will be challenged at every step. Leaders who control the grassroots have not been treated well, it is felt within the party. The accessibility levels of Rahul to one and all would be watched eagerly within the party. There will be a major challenge for Rahul externally too in dealing with his allies and other regional parties.

In this coalition-era, Rahul will have to adhere to the coalition dharma full well and respect his partners. All of those would be seeking a rightful place under the sun in the anti-BJP coalition and compromises would be hard to come by in the survival politics. Sonia Gandhi had the wisdom to accommodate most of them.

Lastly, Rahul Gandhi is yet to prove he is a 24/7 politician and a serious one at that, having been an issue-hopping politician all these days. Out there it is a choppy political world it calls for not just political acumen but a knowledgeable approach to the issues. We have not seen Rahul speaking much on economy, foreign affairs, defence, industry and agriculture, to know his views. Appeasement politics, coteries and cronyism are inbuilt to his party. The learning curve will be long for the crown prince.