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Rahul Gandhi’s political journey since 2004

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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 then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Gandhi was admitted in St. Stephen’s College, Delhi in 1989 for his undergraduate education but moved to Harvard University after the first year itself In 1991. When Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated by the Tamil Tigers 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.

Ever since he made his political debut 14 years ago, Congressmen have held their breath to see the Gandhi heir step into what was for long mysteriously called a “bigger role.” Through 10 years of the Congress-led UPA running the show at the centre, Mr Gandhi did not join the government, choosing to work for the party as the MP from family bastion Amethi in Uttar Pradesh. 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 popularize the Congress party’s political ideas among India’s youthful population.

The Congress had been doing poorly in Uttar Pradesh, holding only 10 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state at the time of Rahul Gandhi’s debut in the political world but Gandhi won, retaining the family stronghold with a victory margin of over 100,000. Until 2006 he held no other portfolio.

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 India.

He was elevated to the position of the vice-president of the party in January 2013. That elevation was inevitable; Congress leaders said it was just a matter of when. He is the great-grandson of India’s first Prime Minister, the grandson of its first woman Prime Minister, the son of its youngest Prime Minister and also of the party’s longest-serving chief, Sonia. 

In 2008, senior Congress leader Veerappa Moily mentioned the idea of “Rahul-as-PM” when the PM of India Manmohan Singh was still abroad.

Till some years ago, he was spotted sometimes racing a motorcycle in Delhi with his brother-in-law Robert Vadra, much to the chagrin of those charged with his security. They have often also been stretched as Mr Gandhi, who has the highest-level security, has slipped into crowds of people and mingled with them. He rode pillion on a motorcycle one early morning to reach the site of farmers’ protests in Bhatta-Parsaul village in Uttar Pradesh. Or another time, got into a local train in Mumbai to reach the venue of a political meet.

Congress veterans and young guns are hopeful that Gandhi is the man who will galvanise the party and lead it to a straight victory in the Lok Sabha elections. They credit him with promoting young faces in the Congress and his close aides say he has detailed political knowledge and is a practised backroom operator.

Rahul’s elevation to the post of Congress president marked his coming into his own. It showed that he was ready to emerge out of his mother’s shadow, an allegation levelled at him by political opponents. The 2019 Lok Sabha Election is going to be the real test of his leadership after becoming the President of the oldest party in the country.

Politics

Supreme Court asks search committee on Lokpal to recommend names by Feb end

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New Delhi | The Supreme Court on Thursday fixed a February end deadline for the search committee on Lokpal to recommend the panel of names for appointment of the first anti-graft ombudsman of the country.

The search committee is headed by former apex court judge Justice (retd) Ranjana Prakash Desai,

A bench headed by the Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi directed the Centre to provide the search committee with the requisite infrastructure and manpower to enable it to complete its work.

The bench, also comprising Justices L N Rao and S K Kaul, said it would hear the matter again on March 7.

Attorney General K K Venugopal, appearing for the Centre, told the bench there were certain problems like lack of infrastructure and manpower due to which the search committee was not able to hold deliberations on the issue.

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BJP not involved in any operation to topple Cong-JDS government: Yeddyurappa

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Yeddyurappa

Bengaluru | BJP Karnataka chief B S Yeddyurappa on Thursday said no member of his party was involved in any operation to topple the Congress-JD(S) coalition government.

With the ongoing power tussle between the ruling Congress-JD(S) coalition and BJP in Karnataka intensifying, both sides have been trading charges of trying to poach each other’s MLAs.

“The BJP has nothing do with ruling coalition MLAs who are in Mumbai,” the former Chief Minister said and accused the Congress and JD(S) of trying to shift the blame on his party to cover up their ‘failures and inability’ to keep their flock together. “No one from the BJP has indulged in any kind of operation or luring Congress-JD(S) MLAs.

We had gathered all our MLAs atone place and were discussing about the preparations for the upcoming Lok Sabha polls for the last two-three days. Todayall are coming back,” Yeddyurappa said.

Speaking to reporters here, he hit out at the Congress leaders, saying they talk about the Constitution, but everyone was aware of how they played with it since 1960. “Why do they have to fear if we gather our MLAs, I don’t understand. Internal fight within Congress and JD(S) is going out of control… to cover up their internal squabbles, they should not blame the BJP,” he added.

Yeddyurappa, who was in New Delhi and Gurugram along with 104 BJP MLAs for the last few days, returned to the city to visit the ailing 111-year-old prominent seer Shivakumara Swamiji of Siddaganga mutt in Tumakuru district.

Reacting to Congress-JD(S) leaders’ claims that some BJP MLAs were in touch with them, Yeddyurappa said, “We are together. You (Congress-JD(S) have said four to five MLAs are in your contact. Call them. Let me see.

If your MLAs have gone to Mumbai or Delhi, what do we have to do with it? It is -Congress-JD(S)- your duty to keep your legislators intact. No one is in touch with us…I’mtelling you,”he added.

The Leader of Opposition in the assembly also questioned as to who the leaders of Congress-JD(S) combine were to question his party about camping in Gurugram. “Who are they to ask where we are going? You try tokeep your MLAs intact, why are you blaming us? Tomorrow they (Congress) have called their legislature party meeting. how many will come it will be known, their true colours will come out tomorrow.” “Without understanding that your MLAs are dissatisfied and disgruntled, don’t unnecessarily put blame on BJP,” Yeddyurppa said.

Pointing out that during S M Krishna’s chief ministership, Maharashtra MLAs were kept at a resort in Mysuru, and recently Gujarat MLAs were put up in a resort in Bengaluru, Yeddyurappa questioned as to “where did Congress’ democracy go then?”

Hitting out at Congress leader and former Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Yeddyurappa said despite being taught a lesson by the people ofChamundeshwari constituency, he had notlearnt anything.

Siddaramaiah lost the Chamundeshwari assembly seat in the May polls, though he won from Badami. Lashing out at the BJP and calling it “shameless” for allegedly luring ruling coalition MLAs, Siddaramaiah on Wednesday had said that Yeddyurappa has grown old, but has no wisdom.

Yeddyurappa also targeted former Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda and called him “a political opportunist”. “…all his fights and principles are only limited to secure his and his family’s political interests.People of the state are well aware of Deve Gowda’s use and throw policy,” hesaid.

Targeting Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy, Yeddyurappa said 156 taluks were in the grip of drought, but the chief minister and his ministers are not working effectively. “What are you doing? Who is travelling- Chief Ministers and Ministers- What steps have you taken when farmers are in distress?” he questioned. “In such a grave situation, without doing your duty, you are trying to shift the blame on BJP. You will not gain anything from it,” he said.

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Congress MLAs, MLCs urge Rahul Gandhi to nominate CLP leader

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Rahul Gandhi

Hyderabad | Newly-elected Congress MLAs and MLCs in Telangana on Thursday unanimously resolved to urge party president Rahul Gandhi to nominate their leader.

The meeting was attended by AICC representative K C Venugopal, who spoke to party MLAs, MLCs and MPs on the matter.

Venugopal said he would convey the legislators’ views to Gandhi, who would take a decision as early as possible.

“We took a unanimous resolution authorising the Congress president to nominate the new CLP (Congress legislature Party) leader of Telangana,” he said.

Congress won 19 seats in the 119-member house in the December 7 assembly elections.

Meanwhile, the first session of the assembly after the polls began here Thursday with the newly elected members taking oath as MLAs.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao was the first to take oath.

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