Rahul Gandhi is an Indian politician and member of the 17th Lok Sabha, where he represents the seat of Wayanad, Kerala. A member of the Indian National Congress (INC), he served as the president of the INC from 16 December 2017 to 3 July 2019. He is also a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, one of the most influential political dynasties in India.
Rahul Gandhi was born in New Delhi, India on June 19, 1970. He is the son of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and former INC president Sonia Gandhi. He is the grandson of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi spent his early childhood between Delhi and Dehradun, a town nestled in the valley between the Himalayas and Shivaliks. He started his undergraduate studies at St. Stephen’s College in Delhi before transferring to Harvard University in the United States. After his father’s assassination in 1991, he shifted to Rollins College in Florida for security reasons and completed his B.A. degree in 1994. He then worked at Monitor Group, a management consulting firm in London for three years before returning to India.
Rahul Gandhi entered politics in 2004 when he contested and won from Amethi constituency in Uttar Pradesh, which was previously held by his father and mother. He was re-elected from Amethi in 2009 and 2014 but lost to Smriti Irani of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2019. However, he also contested and won from Wayanad constituency in Kerala with a record margin of over four lakh votes.
Rahul Gandhi has held various positions within the INC such as general secretary, vice-president and president. He has also led several campaigns and initiatives for social justice, rural development, youth empowerment and women’s rights. He has been vocal about issues such as corruption, communalism, poverty, unemployment and climate change.
Rahul Gandhi has also travelled extensively across India and abroad to interact with various sections of society such as farmers, students, workers, entrepreneurs and civil society activists. He has delivered lectures at prestigious institutions such as Harvard University, Cambridge University, Berkeley University and Singapore University on topics such as democracy, development and diversity.
Rahul Gandhi is widely seen as a potential prime ministerial candidate for the INC-led opposition alliance against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP-led government. However, he has faced criticism for his lacklustre performance as an opposition leader, lack of clarity on his vision for India’s future and frequent absence from Parliament sessions.
Rahul Gandhi enjoys reading books on history, philosophy and spirituality as well as playing chess and watching movies in his spare time. He is also fond of sports such as cricket and football and practices yoga and meditation regularly.
Rahul Gandhi And the Bharat Jodo Yatra
Bharat Jodo Yatra was a movement launched by Rahul Gandhi in presence of Tamil Nadu chief minister M. K. Stalin on September 7, 2022. Its major goal was to oppose the politics of “fear, bigotry, and prejudice,” as well as the economics of job loss, rising unemployment, and expanding inequality.
Rahul Gandhi walked for more than 2,200 miles (3,540 km) from Kanyakumari in southern India to Kashmir in northern India over a period of six months. He was accompanied by his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and other party leaders and supporters. He met people from all sections of society such as farmers, workers, students, women, minorities and tribal communities. He also visited various religious places such as temples, mosques, churches and gurdwaras to promote communal harmony.
Rahul Gandhi said he learnt a lot during his yatra and that it gave him a new perspective on India’s problems and potential. He also said he wanted to unite India under the values of the Constitution and restore its democratic institutions. He claimed that his yatra had revitalised his party’s morale and support base ahead of the 2024 general elections.
However, Rahul Gandhi’s yatra also faced criticism from his political rivals who accused him of being a publicity seeker, a dynast and an ineffective leader. They also questioned his absence from Parliament sessions during his yatra. Some analysts also doubted whether his yatra would translate into electoral gains for his party which has been losing ground to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP-led government.
Rahul Gandhi as INC President
Rahul Gandhi served as the president of the Indian National Congress (INC) from 16 December 2017 to 3 July 2019. He was elected as the president after his mother Sonia Gandhi stepped down from the post due to health reasons. He became the sixth member of his family to hold the position after his great-grandfather Motilal Nehru, his grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, his grandmother Indira Gandhi, his father Rajiv Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi.
As the president of INC, Rahul Gandhi led his party’s campaign for the 2019 general elections. He also contested from two constituencies: Amethi in Uttar Pradesh and Wayanad in Kerala. He won from Wayanad with a record margin of over four lakh votes but lost from Amethi to BJP’s Smriti Irani by a margin of 55,120 votes.
After the election results were announced on 23 May 2019, Rahul Gandhi took responsibility for his party’s poor performance and offered to resign as the president. However, his resignation was rejected by the Congress Working Committee (CWC), which is the highest decision-making body of INC. The CWC also passed a resolution expressing full faith in Rahul Gandhi’s leadership and urging him to continue as the president.
Despite this, Rahul Gandhi insisted on stepping down and made his resignation letter public on 3 July 2019. In his letter, he said that he was resigning as a matter of principle and accountability. He also said that he wanted to empower a new generation of leaders who could rebuild the party and fight for India’s ideals.
After Rahul Gandhi’s resignation, Sonia Gandhi was appointed as the interim president of INC by the CWC on 10 August 2019.
Rahul Gandhi as Amethi MP
Rahul Gandhi has been representing Amethi as an MP for three consecutive terms since 2004. He defeated his closest challenger in 2009 by a margin of more than 370,000 votes. In Uttar Pradesh, where Congress won 21 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2009, Gandhi was credited for the Congress’ comeback.
Rahul Gandhi’s vision for Amethi was to focus on three main areas: education, agriculture and connectivity. He initiated several projects and schemes to improve the quality of life and livelihood of the people of Amethi. Some of these include:
- Setting up educational institutions such as Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Petroleum Technology, Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi, Footwear Design and Development Institute, National Institute of Fashion Technology etc.
- Establishing food processing units such as Mega Food Park, Tomato Processing Plant etc.
- Enhancing road connectivity by constructing highways such as Lucknow-Sultanpur Expressway, Raebareli-Amethi Bypass etc.
- Promoting organic farming and dairy development by supporting farmers’ cooperatives such as Amethi Organic Farmers Association etc.
However, Rahul Gandhi lost his seat in 2019 to Smriti Irani of BJP by a margin of about 55,000 votes. This was considered a historic defeat as Amethi had been a Congress bastion for decades.
Read more: Rahul Gandhi Delivers Lecture on ‘Learning to Listen’ at Cambridge University