But most of the parties are not yet ready to agree with a section of the Congress who want a Rahul versus Modi contest.
On a day when 48-year-old Rahul Gandhi completed one year in office as the Congress president, his party finally delivered crucial victories in the Hindi heartland.
In both Gujarat and Karnataka Assembly elections, where Mr. Gandhi was the star campaigner, it was a case of so-near-yet-so-far. While the Congress managed to outwit the BJP in Karnataka, its claim of a ‘moral victory’ in Gujarat was the subject of ridicule on social media.
So what does the latest round of Assembly elections mean for the Congress?
The one question that has troubled the non-BJP parties keen on forging an anti-BJP alliance front is: who will be its prime ministerial face? While parties like the Trinamool had talked about a leader with a proven track record, most are not yet ready to agree with a section of the Congress who want a Rahul versus Modi contest.
“The present elections are a vote against the BJP’s misrule,” said D. Raja of the CPI. Asked about Mr. Gandhi’s future role, Mr. Raja said, “He is the leader of the Congress, a pan-India secular country, who is taking on the BJP and Mr. Modi [Prime Minister Narendra Modi]. He is growing in confidence, courage and conviction but the question of PM is a BJP trap at this stage,” said Mr. Raja.
While both the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP) snubbed the Congress by refusing to ally in these States, going forward the Congress could negotiate from a position of strength.
“With sheer grit & determination in a short span of 12 months, Rahul Gandhi has scripted an amazing turnaround. There could not be a more gratifying moment as he completes one year in office today. It will invest the Congress leadership with far greater moral authority to negotiate an all pervasive alliance to get rid of the NDA/BJP Government,” former Union Minister Manish Tewari told The Hindu.
Between Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, there are 15 Rajya Sabha seats and if the Congress manages to finally win Madhya Pradesh (At the time of filing this report, it was still swinging between Congress and BJP), the party would have a decisive say over 26 seats in the 245-member Upper House over the next two years.
With repeated electoral losses, one of the biggest casualties for the Congress since 2014 has been the drying up of funds. The party even took the step of asking for crowd sourcing of funds on social media. Now, with the larger footprint, the Congress can hope to improve its funding.
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