New Delhi. Rahul Gandhi was elected unopposed as president of the Congress party on Monday. He will take over as the party president from his mother Sonia Gandhi, who has been leading for the past 19 years, two days before the results of the Gujarat polls are announced.
Party election returning officer Mullapally Ramachandran said in a statement: “Eighty-nine nomination papers proposing the name of Shri Rahul Gandhi for Congress President have been received. All the the nomination papers have been found valid….Since the withdrawal date/ time is over and there is only one candidate, as per Article XVIII (d) of the Constitution of the Indian National Congress, I hereby declare Shri Rahul Gandhi elected as President of the Indian National Congress.”
Gandhi, 47, was busy campaigning in Gujarat when his elevation to the post of president of the Congress was announced in New Delhi. Among the first to congratulate him was Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I congratulate Rahul Ji on his election as Congress President. My best wishes for a fruitful tenure. @Office of RG,” Modi wrote on Twitter.
Gandhi has been aggressively campaigning in Gujarat to win the state from the BJP, which has been in power since last two decades. Under his leadership, the Congress has been giving a stiff fight to the BJP in the state.
Gandhi’s campaign has been built around Modi’s “disastrous” policies of demonetisation and GST that have broken the economic backbone of traders, farmers and even housewives in the state, according to Gandhi. “This poll (in Gujarat) is not about Prime Minister Modi or me or about the BJP or Congress. This is about the future of the state,” he said in a rally on Sunday. But, he said, Modi was talking less about Gujarat and more about Pakistan, Afghanistan and Japan.
A favourable result in Gujarat will give an immense boost to Gandhi’s standing vis a vis Modi, but tough challenges will still be ahead of him as Congress president. The Congress cannot effort to lose Karnataka, where it is in power, while the party has to register wins in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh, now ruled by the BJP. Elections for the three states are due in 2018.
If Gandhi leads his party to emphatic wins in all the three states, he will definitely be the biggest challenger to Modi in 2019 elections.