Election 2019 Results: Congress President Rahul Gandhi who launched a spirited campaign against Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have fallen short in his ambition to grab the top political post in the country. Gandhi family scion, who was hopeful of his chances of being elected as Prime Minister, in case of a hung Parliament, will have to be in opposition for at least five more years against the expectations of his party and the family.
Though Rahul Gandhi never publicly said that he was game for the post of Prime Minister in this election, but in a clear sign of thinking of Congress High Command, the party forced senior leader Ghulam Nabi Azad to retract his statement within a day when he claimed that the party will not insist on the post of Prime Minister to allow a non-BJP government at the centre.
However, it was two days before the exit polls were released on the evening of May 19. With most of the exit polls predicting a clear majority for the ruling NDA and no one projecting a major gain for the Congress, exit polls are seen as a big setback for the ambitions of Congress President.
Congress Party was hoping that it will be the natural choice for leading a coalition government at the Centre in case of a hung Parliament.
Though, two senior Congress leaders Kapil Sibal and Madhya Pradesh chief minister Kamal Nath had publicly stated that the party would not get the majority on its own, but the party was nursing its ambitions to return to the power after a gap of five years because of its ability to rally around a large number of opposition parties if the BJP falls short of the majority.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi who had publicly questioned Manmohan Singh government’s several decisions, including an ordinance to insulate convicted parliamentarians in September 2013, was hopeful for his ascent to the top political post in 2014. But a strong backlash against his party’s ten year rule and allegation of corruption brought down the party’s tally to all time low of just 44 members in the Lok Sabha.
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Given the clear majority of Modi government, there was no opportunity for the Congress to mount an attempt to topple the NDA government like it had done in the past when the governments led by Charan Singh in the late 70s and Vishwanath Pratap Singh government in early 90s.
In July 1979, the Congress had offered support to Charan Singh’s Janata Party (Secular) government to topple then Prime Minister Morarji Desai. However, it withdrew the support in January 1980 and the Charan Singh government collapsed just after 170 days.
Similarly, the Congress offered support to Chandra Shekhar government in November 1990 to topple Vishwanath Pratap Singh who had come to power due to backlash against the alleged corruption by Rajiv Gandhi government in Bofors case. After using Chandra Shekhar to pull down Vishwanath Pratap Singh government, the Congress withdrew its support in June 1991 from him, causing the downfall of Chandra Shekhar government in just 223 days.
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2019 Lok Sabha election was the first opportunity for the Congress in the last five years to mount any attempt to dislodge the BJP from the Centre. It was also the first serious opportunity for Rahul Gandhi to lead the government as in 2009, the old guard of the Congress party was not seen supporting him for the post of Prime Minister due to lack of experience.
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It was clear that the Congress was seriously grooming Rahul Gandhi for the post of Prime Minister for the last two years.
In its bid to project Rahul Gandhi as a serious candidate for the post of Prime Minister, the party organised several overseas visits for him in places like Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, UK and Germany, including a visit to Berkeley University in the US in the last two years.
In these meetings, Rahul Gandhi addressed students, Indian Diaspora, sometimes imitating the style of Prime Minister Modi who used his official foreign visits to connect with overseas Indians in a highly choreographed events. These events received wide publicity in India but Rahul Gandhi’s election pitch failed to resonate with Indian voters.
And a clear verdict for the BJP in 2019 has dashed any hopes for Rahul Gandhi for another five years.
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