Five states in India are headed for elections in the next two months. The outcome of the regional elections is crucial in that it will decide how national politics will play out in the coming days, and years, leading up to national elections in 2019. For the 131-year old Indian National Congress, the principal opposition party, it holds a special significance. Rahul Gandhi, the “crown prince,” may finally be anointed the “king” of the Grand Old Party of India.
Gandhi is the 46-year-old scion of the Nehru-Gandhi clan, the longest running political dynasty in post-independent India. Currently the party’s vice-president, he is very soon expected to fill in the shoes of his mother, Sonia Gandhi, the current president. Mother Gandhi, who is ailing, has been staying out of crucial party affairs, even in the poll-bound states. Reportedly, matters are now mostly being handled by Rahul, who has few political achievements of his own to showcase so far. Not taken seriously by the political class, he is possibly also the most-trolled Indian politician.
Rasheed Kidwai is the Associate Editor with The Telegraph, the largest-selling English daily in eastern India. His book, Sonia, a Biography (Penguin, 2003, 2004 and 2011) offered the first close look at the Italy-born Sonia Gandhi, the widow of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who as the president of the Congress Party is the most powerful leader in India’s opposition. Kidwai’s 24, Akbar Road (Hachette, 2011) is a comprehensive take on the leaders who made and broke the Indian National Congress.