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Posted at: Oct 29, 2017, 1:59 AM; last updated: Oct 29, 2017, 1:59 AM (IST)

With Rahul’s makeover, Cong back in game

With Rahul’s makeover, Cong back in game
Rahul Gandhi

Aditi Tandon

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 28

With ruling alliance partner Shiv Sena endorsing Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s leadership potential, the scion of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty has finally come centre stage in Indian politics.

Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s remark that the Modi wave is receding and Rahul can now lead the country has brought cheer to the Congress rank and file like never before. A buoyant Ajay Makan remarked: “We never had a doubt about our leader’s capabilities. Finally, even the ruling allies are acknowledging the fact.”

So what is finally working for Rahul, described as a reluctant politician? The answer lies in his growing social media presence, the infusion of new blood in the party rank and file and Rahul’s massive image makeover.

Congress’ media department head Randeep Singh Surjewala has built a brand new outreach team to ensure the party dominates the news, just as the BJP did on the eve of the 2014 General Election. “Suddenly, it is the Congress, not BJP, that is setting the agenda — be it demonetisation or GST. Real-time data on economy is making the people sit up. This is why the social media is listening to the Congress voice more,” a party leader said. 

Only two days ago, a low-profile Congress worker from Haryana, Vineet Punia, was named secretary in-charge of the Congress media cell, replacing a former heavyweight from Tamil Nadu. 

Of late, Rahul’s personal image has transformed too. Even critics have begun to acknowledge his new presence. Addressing the industry a few days ago, Rahul exuded confidence and looked like a person in control. He attacked the BJP well, and defended the Congress well too. On his marriage prospects, he told boxer Vijender Singh candidly, “Jab hogi, tab hogi.” 

On sports, he said he was a black belt in Aikido. “I do a lot of sports. Only I don’t talk about it in public,” was his refrain. Asked about over-centralisation of power in party president Sonia Gandhi’s office during the UPA rule, he insisted: “That is a misunderstanding. That concentration was nowhere near what we see now.” Well, Rahul is now talking about things publicly, and that is, perhaps, making all the difference.

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