Twitter floods with memes, jokes over Rahul Gandhi's 'elevation' as Congress president

Last Updated: Wed, Dec 06, 2017 18:43 hrs
Bofors ghost reappears to haunt Congress

The worst kept secret and an inevitable move is upon us. Rahul Gandhi will become the head of the Congress party after filing his nomination papers on Monday with no other candidate in the running. The 47-year-old who served as Vice President of the party will reach the top and take over the reins from his mother Sonia Gandhi; the longest serving Congress chief who held the post for nearly 2 decades. He will be elected later this month.

Not everyone was pleased with Rahul’s impending elevation to the top post of the party. Maharashtra Congress leader Shehzad Poonawalla said it is a black day in the history of the party and termed the process a “coronation”.

However, even as senior Congress leaders took to social media to congratulate Gandhi, Twitter erupted with jokes.

Here are the funniest tweets about Rahul Gandhi's elevation to Congress president:

The main tasks at hand are the upcoming elections this month. Gujarat in particular, is a state where the Congress needs to make inroads in order to form a solid base to build on going forward and into 2019.

Part of this will to be to either overhaul or modify the current make up of the Congress Working Committee (CWC). Will it be starting from scratch or a mix of old and new? The onus now is on him to bring in people he’s comfortable with and keep those who have performed well.

While the probability of a win in Gujarat doesn’t seem high, though possible, it’s certainly the opportunity for him to show what he’s got, now that he’s in charge of the operation. The Hindustan Times editorial points to Gujarat as the chance for him to prove his skeptics wrong –

“In many ways it’s a transition from de facto to de jure. The sixth generation Gandhi-Nehru scion has called the shots since his elevation as vice-president in the beginning of 2013 without picking up the testamur that makes a leader: a poll victory!”

"Does he have it in him? Can he help the party regain the enviable past that’s in a shambles? There’s a tenuous body of evidence now that he’s no longer the fumbling, bumbling Rahul who came across as the Congress family’s reluctant, reticent karta

But the leader some of his colleagues are seeing in Gujarat is ‘another’ person: willing to listen and accept advice; take party-persons across age-groups along rather than restricting himself to a cabal of chosen aides. The jury is out and watching. Credit nevertheless goes to him for assuming command in the middle of a poll battle that can go either way”.

The recent trends in Gujarat show that it could be close; with the popularity of the Prime Minister dipping and that of Rahul Gandhi rising a little. A recent tracker poll from Lokniti-CSDS-ABP News shows the Congress and the BJP getting 43% of the vote; showing a decrease in vote share for the BJP in recent months.

Vidya Subrahmaniam, a Senior Fellow at The Hindu Centre for Politics and Public Policy, in a column for The Hindu, writes on how Rahul Gandhi’s real fight will begin after the elections in Gujarat –

In recent months, Mr. Gandhi’s public appearances have made people sit up and take notice — and for the entirely different reason that nearly everything about him has changed for the better. The transformation was first noticed on his tour of the United States, where on his campus interactions, he came across as sober, self-assured and able to convey ideas…

On the stump, he looks relaxed and confident, slow-delivering his lines to make them uncomplicated and effective. His speeches are direct hits at the Prime Minister and his Gujarat model…

Mr. Gandhi’s real fight will begin after Gujarat which is a two-party State. The rest of India is more complex with a bunch of regional leaders, all ambitious for themselves. If this is problematic, consider the twin tags that hound the Congress: dynasty and corruption”.

One of the challenges that faces the soon to be Congress President is a strategy for the path forward; thinking short term (Gujarat and other local elections) and long term, i.e. 2019 polls. What is the best strategy and message to counter that of the BJP in general and the Prime Minister in particular. Something as simple as just being anti BJP and/or anti Modi won’t cut it on a national level.

The Times of India editorial states that even though the transition is smooth, there is still disarray in the party –

Congress leaders are calling it a “new era” but with the post passing from mother to son, the much touted generational change in India’s oldest political party is virtually a dynastic succession. Rahul’s performance as vice-president is admittedly patchy at best”.

With BJP having shifted focus towards the more populist and culturally conservative elements of its agenda, an area of opportunity for Congress is to appeal to youth and to aspirational sections of Indians”.

He’s inherited a slew of problems among which is the label of being the party of corruption; there have been politicians from the party caught up in various corruption scandals. Coupled with this is finding the sweet spot of messaging to voters. The BJP is clear in its messaging of Hindutva everything that comes with brand of politics. Rahul will have his hands full in finding the group of voters who respond to a more liberal/progressive ideology. As the Times editorial points out, that could be younger/millennial voters.

With key assembly elections in 2018 and general elections in 2019, Rahul’s elevation sets the stage for a post-Sonia churning. With Rahul squarely in charge now, it will be difficult to pass the buck for mistakes and failure”.

One lesson that could prove fruitful is the success of the student wing of the Congress, The National Students Union of India (NSUI) who won the students’ union election in Delhi University (DU) on the slogan, “Take back DU.” It offered a clear vision that opposed the perceived regressive vision; a vision based on freedom given to students.

The road ahead goes through Gujarat this year, then Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan next year. Then 2019 beckons.

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