- Rahul Gandhi spent so many years stepping up to become president of the Congress party that once he was elected unopposed, the biggest surprise remained the timing: in the middle of an Assembly election campaign in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf. Indeed, after the devastating blow to the Congress in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, and other electoral reverses since then, it was a bold decision — a signal that he is in for the long haul and that he is going to be undeterred by an election result that pundits, at least in the early days, had all but given to the Bharatiya Janata Party.
- No matter which way the result goes on December 18, Mr. Gandhi has made it clear that the responsibility of the party’s success rests on his shoulders and that there is no one but himself to blame for any missteps. That he would take over as president was clear since his mother Sonia Gandhi’s gradual retreat, but with a mere 18 months to go before the next general election, Mr. Gandhi doesn’t have the luxury of a great deal of time in reversing the party’s political fortunes. Given the personality cult that attaches itself to the Gandhis in the party, with every appointment and gesture read to see who’s in and who’s out, Mr. Gandhi will send the first signal about his leadership qualities by the speed and professionalism with which he constitutes his A-team. His swiftness in suspending family loyalist Mani Shankar Aiyar was an early indication of decisiveness and drawing a red line for party persons.
- Leadership is vital for the Congress to address its three big challenges: reviving the party organisation; firming up alliances; and formulating a cohesive programme as the main opposition party that is looking for another chance to govern India. Historically, once the Congress is edged out of a two-party contest in a State, its local organisation tends to fray. With the party ruling in half-a-dozen States and running at third or lower place in big States such as Uttar Pradesh and smaller terrains like Delhi, the challenge is obvious. Alliance- formation has remained reactive since 2014 and Mr. Gandhi will have to forge decisions on pacts with regional parties, somewhat similar to what Ms. Gandhi did painstakingly before the 2004 election. A transitional moment such as the leadership change also gives the Congress an opportunity to bring its offshoots, such as the Trinamool Congress, into an understanding. All of this will be easier achieved if the Congress can articulate its outlook and agenda. It needs to spell out where it stands on the economy, social inclusion, minority rights, foreign policy, welfare. Simply reacting to the Modi government or being un-Modi will not suffice.
Campaign: a series of military operations intended to achieve a particular objective, confined to a particular area, or involving a specified type of fighting.
Example: A desert campaign
Synonyms: military operations, maneuvers, crusade, war, battle
Turf: grass and the surface layer of earth held together by its roots.
Example: They walked across the springy turf
Synonyms: grass, lawn, sod
Devastate: destroy or ruin something.
Example: The city was devastated by a huge earthquake
Synonyms: destroy, ruin, wreck, lay waste, ravage, demolish
Responsibility: the state or fact of having a duty to deal with something or of having control over someone.
Example: Women bear children and take responsibility for child care
Synonyms: authority, control, power, leadership
Retreat: an act of moving back or withdrawing.
Example: A speedy retreat
Synonyms: withdrawal, pulling back
Gesture: a movement of part of the body, especially a hand or the head, to express an idea or meaning.
Example: Alex made a gesture of apology
Synonyms: signal, sign, motion, indication, gesticulation, show
Decisiveness: the ability to make decisions quickly and effectively.
Example: The crisis will require leadership and decisiveness to resolve it
Loyalist: a person who remains loyal to the established ruler or government, especially in the face of a revolt.
Example: He blamed such strikes on terrorists and loyalists from the defunct regime.
Cohesive: characterized by or causing cohesion.
Example: Today I got a real sense that we were beginning to become a cohesive unit, looking out for each other.
Obvious: easily perceived or understood; clear, self-evident, or apparent.
Example: Unemployment has been the most obvious cost of the recession
Synonyms: clear, crystal clear, plain, plain to see, evident, apparent, manifest
Transitional: relating to or characteristic of a process or period of transition.
Example: A transitional government was appointed
Synonyms: changeover, interim, changing, fluid, unsettled, intermediate
Articulate: having or showing the ability to speak fluently and coherently.
Example: An articulate account of their experiences
Synonyms: eloquent, fluent, effective, persuasive, lucid, expressive
Suffice: be enough or adequate.
Example: A quick look should suffice
Synonyms: be enough, be sufficient, be adequate, do, serve