India: 2018 set to be Rahul’s acid test

  • It was a year of change and hope for the Congress, as the 132-year-old party saw a generational shift in leadership in 2017, and the election results in Gujarat gave its weary workers a much-needed boost.
  • The year ended on a high note for the political outfit as Congress president Sonia Gandhi passed the mantle of the grand old party to her son, Rahul Gandhi.
  • It also infused hope in the rank and file of the electorally weakened Congress after the party put up a spirited fight in Gujarat, preventing a landslide by the BJP in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf.
  • In 2017, Congress lost power in Bihar, where the party had registered a victory as part of the RJD-JDU alliance. The coalition government fell apart later in 2017.
  • Overall, the Congress’ poor electoral show continued as it failed to defend its governments in Manipur, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
  • The party finished a poor fourth in Uttar Pradesh and squandered its mandates in Goa and Manipur, where the BJP ended up forming the governments after Congress strategists were caught napping.
  • The party, which once ruled over large swathes of India, now stands reduced to Karnataka, Punjab, Puducherry and Mehgalaya. With elections due in Karnataka and Meghalaya in 2018, the challenge for Rahul Gandhi would be party consolidation and organisational cohesion.
  • The year 2018 will be a year of reckoning for the Congress and it will be back on the centre stage,” said a party member. Only time will tell how far Rahul Gandhi will be able to sustain the momentum he has picked up.
  • But 2018 will be his acid test as the party faces elections in eight states Tripura, Meghalaya and Nagaland in Mar 18; Karnataka in mid-2018; and Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram by the end of 2018.

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