Rahul Gandhi, ridiculed for over a decade in India, slows down Modi’s juggernaut

NEW DELHI, India – Indian opposition leader Rahul, ridiculed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a decade, as an entitled dynast made a stunning return on Tuesday. He emerged at the heart of an alliance which carved deep inroads within strongholds of the ruling party.

He was the scion of India’s legendary Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. He embarked on a two-country march against what he termed Modi’s politics of hatred and fear. This gave a boost to his Congress Party and helped him to rehabilitate his image.

According to the results of the general elections, the number of seats held by the lower house in 2019 was reduced to 52 from 543.

This total will likely limit Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party to less than 272 seats, which is needed to gain a majority. It will then have to rely upon allies to form a government.

Gandhi will be at the centre of a stronger and louder opposition.

Gandhi, as the most visible face of opposition, has been attacked by Modi and other BJP officials, who call him often “the prince”.

Gandhi’s grandfather, father and grandmother were all prime ministers.

During the election campaign, Gandhi with his close-cropped, black hair, and salt-and pepper stubble, traveled the country as the face of the party, even though the Congress is headed by family-loyalist Mallikarjun Kharge.

Rahul Verma is a political analyst with the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. He said that Rahul Gandhi would be credited for not only mobilising, for his marches but also for continually clarifying the Congress’s ideological position against the BJP.

He said, “If ever there was a time when Gandhi truly emerged, this is it.”

BATTLE AGAINST HATE

Gandhi held a press conference on Tuesday and pulled out the red-jacketed pocket-sized constitution he had referred to repeatedly during the campaign. He said that his alliance’s performance in the election was the “first” step to preventing Modi’s attempt to change the constitution.

A two-thirds majority in the parliament is required to change the constitution.

The Cambridge-educated Gandhi often says that he’s not fighting Modi’s BJP to gain power, but rather to defeat its Hindu-first character and the parent Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, which is against India’s secular constitution.

“My fight is against the ideology of RSS or BJP, which is a danger to our country. These people spread hatred, they spread violence. I fight it. It is the fight of my life,” he told a group of partygoers two years ago.

The BJP denies these allegations.

Gandhi, 53 and single, is a pilot, like his father. He’s also a scuba diver and fitness enthusiast. Security men have been seen accompanying him on bicycles as he cycles along New Delhi’s leafy streets.

Gandhi is known for his strict privacy. However, he allowed a glimpse of his life during the height of his campaign. He shared a video showing him giving belly rubs and playing with his dog Yassa. The dog, he claimed, was sick and left Gandhi feeling “very low and upset”.

Gandhi has been a member of the parliament since 2004. His attendance is far below average. Media attention has been focused on his frequent absences, both from the chamber and country. The BJP has accused him of not taking politics seriously.

Like KENNEDY’S

Gandhi has never served as a minister or leader of a state or federal government. He has also not led the Congress party to victory in a general election.

The Congress Party was the biggest national political party in the country with a presence of 1.4 billion citizens until the BJP overtook it in 2014.

Gandhi’s supporters have been reminded of the sacrifices and commitment of his family, including his grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and his father, ex-prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The Gandhi family still controls Congress and commands fierce loyalties.

The lineage of political power, which has been compared to that of the Kennedys, both in terms the power they have enjoyed and in terms the tragedies it has suffered, began with Motilal Niehru. He was a lawyer in the early twentieth century who gave up his Western lifestyle in order to become the president for the Congress party.

Jawaharlal was Mahatma’s son and the closest confidant of the independence hero Mahatma from 1947 to 1964.

Indira Gandhi, Jawaharlal’s daughter, married a Gandhi, who was not related to Mahatma. However, the name did not hinder her in politics. Indira became Prime Minister in 1966 but was ousted in 1977, after imposing an internal emergency in the country. She was the first member of her family to lose national elections.

The mystique surrounding the dynasty, however, brought her back within three years. Her son Rajiv then took control after she was killed by two bodyguards. Rajiv was prime minister for one term and was killed by a suicide-bomber in 1991 while campaigning to make a comeback.

These killings have made Rahul and his sister Priyanka, as well as Sonia, one of the most protected individuals in the world. At public events, armed men wearing dark glasses and suits guard them. Rahul, his mother Sonia, and sister Priyanka even took on a false identity at university and while he was working in London in the early 2000s.

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