On Thursday when Indian PM Narendra Modi gained a landslide victory within the Indian elections, Rahul Gandhi, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and chief of India’s Congress get together, emerged on the different finish, battered and mauled.
He had been hit with a double whammy – his Congress get together gained simply over 50 seats in opposition to the 300 plus that Mr Modi’s BJP obtained; and if that was not dangerous sufficient, he additionally misplaced his personal seat within the household bastion of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
He’ll nonetheless sit within the parliament although as a result of this time he contested from a second seat – Wayanad in Kerala – which he gained. However Amethi was a status battle – it was the seat from the place each his mother and father – Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi – had contested and gained up to now and he himself had held it for the previous 15 years.
He’s additionally a part of the final word political dynasty. His great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the primary and longest-serving prime minister of India. His grandmother, Indira Gandhi, was the primary feminine prime minister of the nation, and his father was India’s youngest prime minister.
Not many have been anticipating an outright win for the Congress, however they have been positively anticipated to do higher. That is why Thursday’s outcomes have come as a shock to many inside and out of doors the get together.
On Thursday night, Mr Gandhi addressed a press convention in Delhi the place he conceded the election to Mr Modi saying the folks had given their mandate and chosen the BJP and took full duty for the Congress get together’s defeat.
And despite the fact that counting was not over in Amethi with greater than 300,000 votes but to be counted, he conceded the constituency to BJP’s Smriti Irani who was main on the time with simply over 30,000 votes.
“I wish to congratulate her. She has gained, it is a democracy and I respect the choice of individuals,” he mentioned.
Refusing to present additional particulars in regards to the Congress efficiency or what would come subsequent, Mr Gandhi mentioned it will all be mentioned within the assembly of the Congress Working Committee, the get together’s high decision-making physique.
He additionally advised the Congress staff, those who misplaced and those who gained, to not lose hope. “There isn’t a should be afraid. We are going to proceed to work laborious and we’ll finally win.”
Uttar Pradesh is the state thought of the bottom zero of Indian politics. It is usually believed that whoever wins India’s most populous state, guidelines the nation.
Eight of 14 Indian prime ministers – together with Mr Gandhi’s nice grandfather, grandmother and father – have been from the state, which elects the biggest variety of MPs – 80 out of a 545-member decrease home. PM Narendra Modi, who’s initially from Gujarat, additionally selected Uttar Pradesh to make his debut as an MP in 2014 when he contested from the traditional metropolis of Varanasi.
On the Congress workplace right here, the long run victory that Mr Gandhi promised appeared like a distant dream to the handful of despondent get together staff, glued to a TV display, watching the massacre unfold as a number of get together veterans misplaced their seats.
“Our credibility may be very low. Individuals don’t have any religion in our guarantees. They aren’t trusting what we’re saying,” one get together official who did not wish to be named advised me.
“Mr Modi didn’t fulfil the commitments he made, however folks nonetheless consider him.”
I ask him why?
“Even we will not perceive why!” he says.
The dismal efficiency of the Congress is sure to boost questions over Mr Gandhi’s management and lots of analysts are already calling for a change, demanding that he step down from the highest get together submit. However all such calls, like up to now, have come from outdoors the get together and are prone to be rejected by the get together management.
As rumours swirled round in Delhi that Mr Gandhi had supplied to stop, Congress politician Mani Shankar Aiyar advised BBC Hindi that “Congress won’t query its management and [will] not settle for Mr Gandhi’s resignation have been he to supply it”.
He added that the management was not the rationale for the get together’s resounding defeat. “It is the opposite causes we have to work on,” he mentioned.
A neighborhood get together spokesman in Lucknow, Brijendra Kumar Singh, defined that, of their view, the issue was not with Gandhi energy, however with get together infighting and poor marketing campaign decisions.
“There are weaknesses within the get together construction, there’s infighting throughout the ranks, we have been late getting off the bottom with our marketing campaign, and our makes an attempt – although unsuccessful – to affix the alliance of regional events in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have been a nasty concept.”
The most important roadblock of their method, everybody agrees, was “Model Modi”.
“Regardless that the prime minister didn’t fulfil the guarantees he made within the final election, he is nonetheless in a position to persuade folks in regards to the insurance policies of his authorities,” Mr Singh says.
This isn’t the primary time Mr Gandhi has obtained such a battering at Mr Modi’s arms – he was all however written off after the get together’s worst ever efficiency within the 2014 elections once they gained solely 44 seats.
Subsequently, the get together additionally misplaced a number of state elections and Mr Gandhi was criticised for being “distant and inaccessible” and was ridiculed on social media as a bumbling, clueless chief liable to gaffes.
He was additionally criticised by many for his dynastic hyperlinks to the Nehru-Gandhi household and PM Modi, who comes from a humble background, has repeatedly mentioned that he had risen to the highest not on benefit, however due to household connections.
However up to now two years, Mr Gandhi’s profession graph had begun to enhance: he’d emerged from the shadows, his social media campaigns grew to become smarter and he started arguing convincingly in regards to the authorities’s controversial foreign money ban, a scarcity of employment alternatives, rising intolerance within the nation and the slowdown within the financial system.
He was more and more seen as setting the agenda with a combative marketing campaign and in December when he led the Congress to victory in essential state elections in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh, many mentioned he had introduced the get together again into the reckoning.
After which in February, when his charismatic sister Priyanka Gandhi joined him to assist his hand in Uttar Pradesh, it appeared just like the Gandhis have been on to one thing.
“For those who have a look at our manifesto, it is the most effective. The insurance policies we had introduced, the guarantees we made have been high notch. However what we had hoped for from the voters, the assist we had hoped for, that did not occur,” says state get together official Virendra Madan.
Mr Madan says the get together management in Delhi – in addition to the state stage – will maintain conferences within the subsequent few days to determine what went improper. “It is time for soul looking. To evaluate the place we went improper.”
However, he says, that irrespective of how decisive the election end result, there isn’t any query that the get together wouldn’t stand by its management.
“It is not simply Mr Gandhi who’s misplaced. A lot of different leaders additionally didn’t win. And elections come and go, you win some and also you lose some. Keep in mind in 1984, BJP was down to only two seats? Did not they make a comeback? We will even come again,” he says.