2017: Resurgent Cong under Rahul emerges as strong foe to BJP in run up to 2019 polls

NEW DELHI, Dec 29:  It was an year that saw a resurgent Congress, under the inspiring leadership of Rahul emerge as a strong opponent to the BJP, giving a scare to the ruling party in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Though the year saw the party lose power in Uttarakhand, Manipur and Himachal Pradesh,  it’s strong showing in Gujarat saw the party  emerge as a formidable foe to the ruling dispensation  ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Starting the year on a disappointing note with  losses in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and failure to form governments in Goa and Manipur despite being the single largest party in both states, the Congress emerged as a  force to reckon with by the year end,  thanks largely to a spirited campaign by Rahul in Gujarat, and party’s alliance with the trio of  Patel leader Hardik Patel and Dalit leaders Jjgnesh Mewani and Alpesh  Thakore, all of which culminated in the BJP being reduced to double digits in the state, its lowest since 1995.
The strong performance by the Congress in Gujarat was credited to a relentless campaign led by its youth icon Rahul Gandhi, who came into his own this year as he was finally elevated to the post of party president  after elections to the top post in the party.
Though after the loss in UP  and Uttarakhand and ‘missing the bus’ in Goa and Manipur despite being the single largest party, nobody gave them much of a chance in Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, the Congress youth icon Rahul Gandhi proved the naysayers wrong with a relentless campaign, focussing on the ‘Navsarjan’ of Gujarat and the failure of the so called Gujarat model of  Prime Minister Modi.
The campaign saw Rahul travel every nook and corner of Gujarat and saw him tap into the undercurrent of resentment among the farmers over the lack of adequate remuneration for their produce and among traders over the faulty implementation of the Goods and services tax.
The  run up to the elections saw enthusiastic public response to the election rallies by Rahul Gandhi across the state as also the lack of crowds at the rallies addressed by BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The campaign by Rahul, coupled with public meetings addressed by renowned economist and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,  helped the party to make a  strong  impact in Gujarat,  hitherto considered an ‘impregnable fort’ of the BJP.
The results saw the Congress increasing its tally to  77 seats in the 182 member Gujarat assembly, its highest ever tally in the state in the last over three decades.
Another shot in the arm for the grand old party towards the year end  came in the form of the verdict by the special CBI court in the 2G spectrum case, acquitting all the 18 accused in the case including DMK leaders Kanimozhi and A Raja.
Coming as a major embarrassment for the ruling NDA Government at the Centre, the verdict gave a fresh ammunition to the principal opposition party to attack the ruling dispensation which it charged of speaking untruths to the public on the 2G case before the Lok Sabha polls in order to come to power.
Launching a no holds barred attack on the BJP, the Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the whole architecture of the BJP was about lies be it the 2G case, the deposition of RS 15-lakh in bank account of every Indian or the Gujarat model.
The Congress working committee also attacked the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of maligning the party based on lies on the 2G case in a bid to come to power.
The highlight of the year for the Congress  undoubtedly was Rahul Gandhi coming into his own as a leader. His speeches at the university of Cambridge and at gatherings of NRIs during his visit to the United states evoked a lot of appreciation there as well as in India. During one of his speeches, Rahul said that he views India not as a piece of land but as a set of ideas and anybody who has the ideas that make up India is an Indian.  (PTI)