The Rebooting Of Rahul Gandhi, 49th Congress President

The party's new 47-year-old boss signals a generational change in the grand old party founded 132 years ago, in the middle of India's independence movement.

The Rebooting Of Rahul Gandhi, 49th Congress President

Rahul Gandhi faces an immense battle to revive the ailing Congress Party. (AFP)

New Delhi:  Rahul Gandhi, once described as the "reluctant prince" but lately showing signs of shedding that image, has become Congress president in the smoothest transition to a new leadership that the party has seen in decades.

The party's new 47-year-old boss signals a generational change in the grand old party founded 132 years ago, in the middle of India's independence movement.

Rahul Gandhi is the sixth member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to lead the party. He has taken over from mother Sonia Gandhi at a time when the party is struggling to win elections or to stay relevant with the BJP - led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi - firmly entrenched in the political centre-stage.
rahul gandhi

Rahul Gandhi took over the reigns from his mother, Sonia Gandhi as the new Congress President today.

In 2013, still seen to be unequal to the task of shouldering his family's political legacy, Rahul Gandhi took the post of Vice President, becoming his mother's official deputy.

But the very next year, the Congress suffered its worst ever defeat in national elections, reduced to just 44 seats in the Lok Sabha as the BJP rode to power on a massive "Modi wave".

Since then, the party has lost more states than it has won, and Rahul Gandhi's track record has been far from impressive. It hasn't helped that his interventions in parliament have been limited.

Disdained by the BJP and doubted by allies, Rahul Gandhi has shown signs of transformation in the past few months.

It began with his speech at America's UC Berkeley in September, where he tackled head-on a question about dynastic politics, especially in the Congress, which has been ruled for 40 of its 132 years by a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family.

He also floored his audience by admitting that PM Modi "is a very good communicator, probably much better than me. He understands how to deliver a message to three or four groups in a crowd; his messaging ability is very subtle."
rahul gandhi

Striking a balance between the old guard and the young leaders would be a key challenge for Mr Gandhi (File Photo)

In his white kurta, black jacket and sneakers, Rahul Gandhi, to many Congressmen is an image of his father Rajiv Gandhi, who was also a novice when he was forced to take charge after mother Indira Gandhi's assassination in 1984.

In the acrimonious campaign for Gujarat, Rahul Gandhi upped his game, using sharp social media posts and his public rallies to take on the BJP and the prime minister in his home state.

Having coined the phrase "suit-boot ki Sarkar" once, he introduced in a Gujarat rally another catchy theme, calling the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the "Gabbar Singh Tax". It shows more popular connect than in his early election rallies years ago, when he lost much of his Dalit audience by the time he launched into a simile on the "escape velocity of Jupiter".

Upping his social media strategy, Rahul Gandhi introduced his pet dog 'Pidi' on Twitter.

Amping up his social media pitch, he not just posted a-question-a-day for the PM on Twitter but also won the Internet with a tweet on his dog, "Pidi Gandhi".

Rahul Gandhi studied in St Stephen's College in Delhi, Rollins College in Florida and Trinity College, Cambridge before joining the Monitor Group, a consulting group in London, where he worked for three years.

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