Rahul Gandhi Biography
Flapping his political fins to stay afloat in the vagaries of current Indian politics is a youth representative and icon of modern India, Rahul Gandhi – aged 43. He is fondly addressed as Rahul Baba and called the scion of the Gandhi family, a smooth operator, a much-hyped youth icon, etc.
Of late, Rahul Gandhi has been the cynosure of the eyes of the media, mainly mired in controversy on various issues. The latest one, of course, is the notice sent to him by the Election Commission on his speech delivered in October stating that the Muzaffarnagar riot victims were being approached by the ISI of Pakistan and accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of causing communal flare-ups. He is expected to respond to this notice by today, that is November 8, 2013.
Let’s know more about Rahul Gandhi, who is currently the Congress vice president and the second in command in the party since January 2013. Gandhi is expected to join in the Delhi assembly elections campaigning after his visit to Jammu and Kashmir.
Rahul Gandhi – Who is he?
Rahul Gandhi joined politics in 2003-4 when he went on quickly from being a Congress worker to fighting and winning elections in his father’s constituency seat of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
Rahul Gandhi comes from a family of politicians beginning with his great-great-grandfather Motilal Nehru, a seasoned politician who successfully powered his political path; to his great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India; to his grandmother Indira Gandhi, another prime minister who was assassinated in 1984; to his own father, Rajiv Gandhi, an ex-prime minister trying to find his way back to power when he was assassinated while addressing an election rally in 1991; and finally his mother, Sonia Gandhi, who is the current Congress Party President. He has witnessed a lot of gory politics in his life and learnt the ropes the harsh way; and is thus, a fifth-generation politician.
In his early days, after schooling in some of India’s prestigious schools such as St. Columba’s, Doon School, etc., he went to Rollins College, UK to study international relations and philosophy under the name of Raul Vinci and received his M Phil from Trinity College, UK in 1995. Thereafter, he worked for the Monitor Group in UK as a management consultant and later in 2002, became a director in the Mumbai-based outfit BookOps Pvt. Ltd.
He was seen as a reluctant entrant in politics who began to take his initial steps in Congress Party matters in order to assist his mother. In November, coming out of his shell, he picked up 40 members for the Indian Youth Congress thinktank and National Students’ Union Organization 9(NSUI) through a series of interviews. He also managed to win and retain the Lok Sabha elections in Amethi in 2009. He was credited with Congress’ rejuvenation in UP where it ultimately won 21 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats.
While in 2012, the scenario was the opposite for the UP assembly elections. Rahul Gandhi campaigned heavily, addressed more than 200 rallies and the outcome was the Congress ended 4th in the state with only 29 seats and from the Gandhi family pocket-borough of Amethi, which has 15 seats, the party was able to win only a paltry 2.
A hare-brained or an emotional politician?
The elitist background of Rahul Gandhi has not really worked in his favour as he has had a difficult time wading through the murky politics in India. Many critics have actually said that Rahul Gandhi has neither the ideas nor the energy to initiate change. There have been reports of even his fellow Congressmen getting exasperated with his lack of initiative many a times. While others ponder if he is a hare-brained politician making comments such as “Poverty is a state of mind” or “Escape velocity is needed” for Dalits to overcome social chellenges. Or is he an emotionally-driven politician wanting to make a genuine impact on villagers – sleeping with them in their huts and spending time to know each one of them? Gandhi has stated that the current Congress contenders for tickets shall not be given any, if they do not reach out to the people.
He reacts and makes impromptu decisions – as was reflected when he barged into Ajay Maken’s, the Congress spokesperson’s press conference and openly criticized his own government and PM’s decision to go against the Supreme Court’s verdict of penalizing criminal politicians. Or perhaps this was a political gambit that backfired?
Another instance, which drew flak, was when on the 10th day of Anna Hazare’s fast protesting for the JanLokpal Bill movement, Rahul Gandhi stated that the Lokpal should be a constitutional body and be answerable to the Parliament like the Election Commission of India. He strongly voiced his opinion that the Lokpal solely could not root out corruption. This led to the Parliament tabling the bill on December 29th, 2011, with the same opinion supported by all parties and the fading away of Anna Hazare’s movement.
Much ado about his personal life
Of his personal life, in 2004 – he spoke of a Venezuela-based Spanish architect girlfriend; some time ago he had commented that he would be adopting celibacy in order to avoid hints at dynastic politics, and some speculate that he has a current relationship with the daughter of a Malaysian druglord.
He has however, fallen victim to negative sentiments echoing on various online media. While his probable contender, Narendra Modi has been garnering the highest percentage of online mentions, as per a Blogworks report – the negative sentiment for Rahul Gandhi has increased from 27% in June to a whopping 82% in July 2013.
How all this translate will be seen both in the forthcoming Assembly elections of 2013 as well as the Lok Sabha elections of 2014. What impact will the Rahul Gandhi factor have on the performance of the Congress Party, and what impact will the performance of the Congress Party in these forthcoming elections have on the future political career of Rahul Gandhi? Will the reluctant politician make a bigger impact or will he become less relevant – the answers may lie in the hands of the Indian voters.
Facts and Information about Rahul Gandhi
|Born||June 19, 1970 in Delhi|
|Father||Rajeev Gandhi (sixth Prime Minister of India)|
|Mother||Sonia Gandhi (current President of the Indian National Congress)|
|Grand Father||Feroz Gandhi (politician and journalist)|
|Grand Mother||Indira Gandhi (third Prime Minister of India)|
|Great Grandfather||Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru (first Prime Minister of India)|
|Great Grandmother||Kamla Nehru|
|Aunt||Meneka Gandhi (politician and animal activist)|
|Sister||Priyanka Vadra (politician)|
|Cousin Brother||Varun Gandhi (politician)|
|Brother in Law||Robert Vadra (controversial Indian businessman)|
|Residence||New Delhi, India|
|Political Party||Indian National Congress|
|Schooling||St. Columba’s School, Delhi and The Doon School, Dehradun|
|College||St. Stephen’s College, Delhi and the Harvard University|
|M. Phil||Trinity College, Cambridge (1995)|
|Professional Background||Worked with the Monitor Group, a London-based management consulting firm
In 2002, served as director of Backops Services Private Ltd., a technology outsourcing firm based in Mumbai
|Sports and Clubs||Flying, rifle shooting, squash, scuba diving, swimming|
|Political Career||Chairperson of the Indian Youth Congress (2007)
Chairperson of the National Students Union of India (2007)
Rahul Gandhi was appointed General Secretary of the All India Congress Committee on 24 September 2007 in a reshuffle of the party secretariat.
Vice President of the Indian National Congress (2013)
|Enter into Politics||Began in March 2004, by contesting the Lok Sabha seat of Amethi, Uttar Pradesh. He won the election convincingly.|
|Lok Sabha Elections 2009||Won the Amethi seat again in 2009 Lok Sabha.|
|Jail Journey||Arrested on May 11, 2011 in UP for supporting the farmers’ agitation demanding higher land prices.|
|Assembly Elections 2012||Campaigned for the Congress in the 2012 UP election. The party saw marginal increase in seats, but didn’t win.|
|Views on Lokpal||Prefers that Lokpal be made a constitutional body remain accountable to the Parliament. Maintains that Lokpal can’t eradicate corruption.|
|Achievements||Has worked to expand the Indian Youth Congress and the National Student’s Union of India (NSUI), increasing the membership to 25 lakh.|