As much as, the Congress may try and project Rahul Gandhi as a PM face, it is still no match for the mass support that PM Modi enjoys.
The Congress party on Tuesday published an internal survey conducted by the party stating that Congress President Rahul Gandhi is the popular choice for PM candidate amongst people over PM Modi. The door-to-door survey conducted by party workers reveals that 39.8% of the total respondents want the Gandhi Scion to be the next Prime Minister. PM Modi remains the second-favorite choice with 35.3%. The survey has come almost a month after the Congress President hinted that he is “ready to become a PM”.
While there is no official confirmation yet, even senior leaders like Ahmed Patel and Rajyasabha MP Rajeev Gowda have on several occasion asserted that Rahul Gandhi is the popular choice among the Congress for Prime Ministerial candidate. However, this dream can only come true if the Congress-led opposition coalition-the second front rises to power in 2019. The recently concluded by-polls prove that united opposition can give a tough time to BJP in 2019. But, it is highly unlikely that the Congress President will be the preferred PM candidate of the Second Front. Here’s Why:
Rahul Gandhi has to compromise PM Post for the Opposition:
With the party being wiped out from major states in the country, the Congress understands two things very well: One, its only chance of survival is through forging a nation-wide alliance. The poll results show that the regional parties are the real challenge for the BJP than Congress. Getting these “like-minded” regional party leaders who have influence over the major section of masses in their respective states is the only option in front of it.
Second, the opposition coalition will not be possible with Rahul Gandhi as a PM candidate. Losing the coalition partners of the crucial states will not only crumble the opposition unity but also cost Congress the numbers. Two very crucial coalition partners- Akhilesh Yadav and Mamata Banerjee have already expressed their reservation about making Rahul Gandhi the PM candidate. In such case, to keep the opposition coalition intact, Congress might have to compromise on the post of Prime Minister.
Hard Fact- Rahul Gandhi’s popularity doesn’t convert into votes:
In the last four years, Indian Elections have shown a major shift. The elections are now centered more around personalities and less around parties. As much as, the Congress may try and project Rahul Gandhi as a PM face, it is still no match to the mass support the star campaigner of BJP-PM Modi enjoys.
Some might also point out towards the increase in popularity of Rahul Gandhi. But, so far the election results have shown that this popularity has not helped Congress to convert it into votes. If he is declared as the PM candidate of Congress, the second front might never be a reality.
Why would political stalwart accept Rahul Gandhi’s leadership?
The second front brings together the big gun opposition leaders together. These leaders include Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee, Chandrababu Naidu, K Chandrashekhar Rao, Sharad Pawar, etc. All of these leaders are far ahead of Rahul Gandhi in term of the achievements and experience. All of them have had experience of running a state. Why would they accept Rahul Gandhi as a PM candidate who is junior to all of them in every aspect?
The Ghost of UPA corruption:
The very reason why Narendra Modi rose to power and Congress had to face a humiliating defeat, was the mounting anger among people against the UPA. The UPA government was tainted by the huge number of corruption cases. After the five years of Modi government, the anger against UPA may have subsided but it is far from over. Not only at the bureaucratic level but the top-most leadership was also named in several corruption cases. PM Modi even made it an issue during the Karnataka Assembly Election calling Rahul and Sonia Gandhi “Bail-Birds”.
If Rahul Gandhi is made PM Candidate, there is no doubt that BJP will leave no stone unturned to use the corruption cases to target Rahul Gandhi. The regional parties fear that this will also have ramification on their credibility or goodwill among the masses.
If they form a government with Congress in the lead, the coalition will just be another version of UPA with the past corruption charges haunting them.
Laying foundation brick by brick:
PM Modi’s leadership is autocratic. The Supreme Commander of BJP is popular for his diktat-type functioning not only in the government but also inside the party. No other leader in BJP has as tall stature and widespread support as Modi. In the four years of his governance, no other BJP leader has been able to climb the popularity ladder as fast as PM Modi.
However, the case with the Second Front is totally different. The Second Front has a line-up of popular leaders. It will need to be worked upon extensively, building it brick by brick taking all the big leaders together who have their difference of opinions and ideas. In the opposition coalition, every leader stands on the same platform and thus it is difficult to put one above other. Every leader is popular in their own community/state/ home turf; some more popular than Rahul Gandhi himself. How will they accept him as a PM candidate? Even though it happens, there is a chance that this mega-coalition will fall apart sooner.
To summarize, the Congress must realise that the dream of Prime Ministerial post for Rahul Gandhi is neither practical nor ideal. Given the circumstances, the party must keep the opposition alliance as a top priority over the PM instead of chasing the PM post for Rahul Gandhi.