Last Updated on August 27, 2020
Rahul Gandhi is an Indian politician who was the President of the Indian National Congress from 16 December 2017 to 3 July 2019. He hails from a long line of politicians, known as the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has occupied a prominent place in the politics of India ever since the country gained independence in 1947. His great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first prime minister of India and also the longest-serving Prime Minister of India having served for a total of seventeen years. Gandhi’s grandmother, Indira, was the first female Prime Minister of India and his father, Rajiv, was the youngest prime minister of India to be sworn in to office. The son of Sonia and Rajiv, he is the chairperson of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India. A member of the Indian Parliament, Gandhi represents the constituency of Wayanad, Kerala in the 17th Lok Sabha.
Rahul Gandhi stayed away from the public sphere for much of his childhood and early youth; he attained primary education in New Delhi and Dehradun but was later homeschooled because of security concerns. He later attended Rollins College under a pseudonym, his identity being known only to a select few individuals, which included certain university officials and security agencies. After obtaining a B.A. from Rollins and an M.Phil. from Cambridge, Gandhi worked at the Monitor Group, a management consulting firm in London. He established the Mumbai-based technology outsourcing firm, Backops Services Private Ltd.
Rahul Gandhi entered politics in 2004 and successfully contested the general elections held that year from Amethi, a seat that was earlier held by his father; he won again from the constituency in 2009 and 2014. Amidst calls from Congress party veterans for his greater involvement in party politics and national government, Gandhi was elected Congress Vice-President in 2013, having served as the General Secretary previously. Rahul Gandhi led the INC’s campaign in the 2014 Indian general elections; the party suffered its worst electoral result in its history, winning only 44 seats compared to 206 seats won previously in the 2009 general election.
Rahul Gandhi took over as the president of the Congress in December 2017. He is also a trustee of Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and Rajiv Gandhi Charitable Trust.
Early life and background
Further information: Nehru–Gandhi family
Rahul Gandhi was born in Delhi on 19 June 1970, as the first of the two children of Rajiv Gandhi, who later became the Prime Minister of India, and Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, who later became President of Indian National Congress, and as the grandson of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. His paternal grandfather Feroze Gandhi was a Parsi from Gujarat. He is also the great-grandson of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Priyanka Vadra is his younger sister and Robert Vadra is his brother-in-law. He identifies himself as a Hindu Brahmin.
Rahul Gandhi attended St. Columba’s School, Delhi before entering The Doon School in Dehradun, Uttarakhand from 1981 to 1983. Meanwhile, his father had joined politics and became the Prime Minister on 31 October 1984 when Indira Gandhi was assassinated. Due to the security threats faced by Indira Gandhi’s family from Sikh extremists, Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka were home-schooled thereafter.
Rahul Gandhi joined St. Stephen’s College, Delhi in 1989 for his undergraduate education but moved to Harvard University after he completed the first year examinations. In 1991, after Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the Tamil Tigers (LTTE) during an election rally, he shifted to Rollins College in Florida, USA, due to security concerns and obtained his B.A. in 1994. During his time at Rollins, he assumed the pseudonym Raul Vinci and his identity was known only to the university officials and security agencies. He further went on to obtain an M.Phil. from Trinity College, Cambridge in 1995.
After graduation, Rahul Gandhi worked at the Monitor Group, a management consulting firm, in London. In 2002, he was one of the directors of Mumbai-based technology outsourcing firm Backops Services Private Ltd
In March 2004, Rahul Gandhi announced his entry into politics by announcing that he would contest the May 2004 elections, standing for his father’s former constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament. His mother had held the seat until she transferred to the neighbouring seat of Rae Bareilly. The Congress had been doing poorly in Uttar Pradesh, holding only 10 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state at the time. At the time, this move generated surprise among political commentators, who had regarded his sister Priyanka as being the more charismatic and likely to succeed. It generated speculation that the presence of a young member of India’s most famous political family would reinvigorate the Congress party’s political fortunes among India’s youthful population In his first interview with foreign media, Rahul Gandhi portrayed himself as a uniter of the country and condemned “divisive” politics in India, saying that he would try to reduce caste and religious tensions. Rahul Gandhi won, retaining the family stronghold with a victory margin of over 100,000. Until 2006 he held no other office.
Rahul Gandhi and his sister, Priyanka managed their mother’s campaign for re-election to Rae Bareilly in 2006, which was won with a victory margin of over 400,000 votes. He was a prominent figure in the Congress campaign for the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections; Congress, however, won only 22 seats of the 403 seats with 8.53% of votes.
Rahul Gandhi was appointed General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee on 24 September 2007 in a reshuffle of the party secretariat. In the same reshuffle, he was also given charge of the Indian Youth Congress and the National Students Union of Indi In 2008, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily mentioned “Rahul-as-PM” idea when the PM of India Manmohan Singh was still abroad. He was elevated to the position of the vice-president of the party in January 2013.
In September 2007 when he was appointed general secretary in charge of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC) and the National Students Union of India (NSUI), Gandhi promised to reform youth politics. In his attempt to prove himself thus, in November 2008 Gandhi held interviews at his 12 Tughlak Lane residence in New Delhi to handpick at least 40 people who will make up the think-tank of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC), an organisation that he has been keen to transform since he was appointed general secretary in September 2007.
Under Rahul Gandhi, the IYC and NSUI have seen a dramatic increase in members from 200,000 to 2.5 million. The Indian Express wrote in 2011, “Three years later, as another organisational reshuffle is in the offing, Rahul Gandhi’s dream remains unrealised with party veterans manipulating internal elections in the Youth Congress and a host of people with questionable background gaining entry into it.
Indian general election, 2014
Main article: 2014 Indian general election
Gandhi contested the 2014 Indian general election from his constituency, Amethi. and led the election campaign of the Indian National Congress. Gandhi held the Amethi seat by defeating his nearest rival, BJP’s Smriti Irani, by a reduced margin of 107,000 votes. Under his leadership, the Indian National Congress suffered its worst ever performance in elections and won only 44 seats compared to 206 seats won previously in the 2009 general election. The Congress-led electoral alliance, the UPA also had its worst ever performance in elections and won only 59 seats compared to 262 seats won previously in the 2009 general election. After the defeat, Gandhi offered to resign his posts, only to be rejected by the party’s working committee.
Indian general election, 2019
Gandhi coined the slogan “Chowkidar Chor Hai” as a jibe against Narendra Modi, BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate for the 2019 Indian general election. The slogan was aimed at Modi in relation to the alleged irregularities and favouritism in awarding the contracts for the Rafale fighter jet deal. The said case was considered by the Supreme Court of India and after carefully going through all the evidence, the high court dismissed the case and exonerated the current government of India.
Rahul Gandhi contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election from two constituencies, Amethi, UP and Wayanad, Kerala. He led the election campaign of the Indian National Congress party. Under his leadership the party improved its seat count from 44 out of 543 in 2014 to 52 out of 542 in 2019. It also boosted its vote from 19.3% to 19.5% in 2019.
Rahul Gandhi won the Wayanad seat in the 2019 general elections. However, he lost his existing seat of Amethi to BJP’s Smriti Irani by a margin of 55,120 votes.
|Year||Election||Party||Constituency Name||Result||Votes gained||Vote share%|
|2004||14th Lok Sabha||Indian National Congress||Amethi||Won||3,90,179||66.18%|
|2009||15th Lok Sabha||Amethi||Won||4,64,195||7 1.78%|
|2014||16th Lok Sabha||Amethi||Won||4,08,651||4 6.71%|
|2019||17th Lok Sabha||Amethi||Lost||4,13,394||4 3.86%|
While in 2004, Gandhi had told the press that he had a Spanish girlfriend, an architect, living in Venezuela, whom he had met while studying in England In 2013, he suggested that he may not get married.