Prime News, National (New Delhi), December 16:- Anticipated for long by his party, Rahul Gandhi took over as Congress President on Saturday, an elevation that comes at a time when the party faces an “existential crisis” and has huge electoral challenges in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Gandhi, 47, is the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to take the top position of the 132-year old party.
The change at the top comes on the eve of counting of votes in the Assembly polls in Gujarat whose results would be interpreted in terms of Rahul Gandhi’s ability as a campaigner and vote getter for a party that has only slipped from defeat to defeat ever since the 2014 Lok Sabha rout. The party won the Punjab Assembly elections earlier this year.
Gandhi would also have to prepare to face the challenge of the next round of assembly polls in 2018 — first in Karnataka and later in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh — that will be absolutely crucial for him and the party ahead of the next Lok Sabha elections in 2019.
The state elections, with BJP as the key rival, will also be the first major polls directly under Rahul Gandhi’s charge as party chief, who has a formidable rival in Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Assembly polls will also be held early next year in Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura.
The challenges for Rahul Gandhi include fostering a new energy and enthusiasm in the Congress and evolving a new strategy to galvanise the party after a string of electoral losses since the 2014 Lok Sabha debacle. The Congress has to work hard at the grassroots to take on the relentless election machine of Modi-led BJP and party chief Amit Shah.
Gandhi has to take a call on forging a larger opposition alliance for the 2019 Lok Sabha polls under a “collective leadership” or projecting himself as the alternative against Modi with support of different parties. He was the face of Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. (MR, Inputs: Agencies).