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January 23, 2009

Wikipedia: Rahul Gandhi

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Rahul Gandhi

Member of Parliament and General Secretary of the Indian National Congress
Incumbent
Assumed office 
2004
Preceded by Sonia Gandhi
Constituency Amethi , Uttar Pradesh

Born 19 June 1970 (1970-06-19) (age 38)
New Delhi, Delhi
Political party Indian National Congress
Residence New Delhi
As of 23 August 2008
Source: [2]

Rahul Gandhi (born 19 June 1970) is an Indian politician and member of the Parliament of India, representing the Amethi constituency.[1] His political party is the Indian National Congress.[2] He is of Indian (Parsi and Kashmiri Pandit) and Italian parentage.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Rahul is a member of the Nehru-Gandhi family, the most prominent political family in India. He is the son of current Italian-born Congress President Sonia Gandhi, and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991. Gandhi was 14 years old when his grandmother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was assassinated by her security guards. His great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first Prime Minister of India, and his great-great-grandfather Motilal Nehru was a distinguished leader of the Indian independence movement.[3]

Education and early career

Rahul Gandhi attended Modern School, New Delhi[4] before entering the The Doon School. The Doon School had been his father’s alma mater.[5] Rahul Gandhi attended Doon from 1981-83 before being home-schooled for security reasons.[6] His admission to St Stephen’s College was controversial as he was admitted on the basis of his abilities as a competitive pistol shooter, which was disputed.[6] He left the school in 1990, after one year of education.[4]

It is reported that Harvard alumni records list him as attending between 1990 and 1993 but not as completing a degree.[7] He transferred, reportedly due to security concerns following his father’s assassination, to Rollins College in Florida where he completed a B.A. in 1994[8]. During the parliamentary elections in 2004, Gandhi claimed that he had received an MPhil in Development Economics after attending Trinity College, Cambridge. Media enquiries report that he attended under the alias “Raul Vinci”.

He worked in London with the strategy consultancy firm Monitor Group[9], before returning to India in late 2002 to run an engineering and technology outsourcing firm in Mumbai[10].

Political career

In 2003, there was widespread media speculation about Gandhi’s imminent entry into national politics, which he did not confirm.[citation needed] He appeared with his mother at public events and Congress meetings.[citation needed] He also travelled to Pakistan on a goodwill visit to watch the first cricket series between the countries in 14 years in an One Day International with his sister Priyanka Gandhi.[11]

Speculation heightened in January 2004 about him and his sister’s possible entry into politics when they visited their father’s former constituency of Amethi, which their mother held at the time. He refused to give a definitive response, stating “I am not averse to politics. I have not decided when I will enter politics and indeed, if I ever will.”[12]

In March 2004, he announced his entry into politics by announcing that he would contest the May 2004 elections, standing for his father’s former constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha, India’s lower house of Parliament.[13] Before that, his uncle Sanjay held the seat before a plane crash. The seat had been held by his mother until she transferred to the neighbouring seat of Rae Bareilly. The Congress had been doing poorly in Uttar Pradesh, holding only 10 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state at the time.[12] 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. Party officials did not have a CV ready for the media, such was the surprise of his move. It generated speculation that the presence of a young member of India’s most famous political family would reinvigorate the Congress party’s political fortunes among India’s youthful population[14] In his first interview with foreign media, he portrayed himself as a uniter of the country and condemned “divisive” politics in India, saying that he would try to reduce caste and religious tensions.[13] His candidacy was greeted with excitement by locals, who had a long standing affinity with the family’s presence in the area.[12]

He won with a landslide majority, retaining the family stronghold with a margin of over 100,000 as the Congress unexpectedly defeated the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.[15] His campaign was directed by his younger sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.[citation needed] Till 2006 he held no other office and concentrated mainly on constituency issues and the politics of Uttar Pradesh, and it was widely speculated in the Indian and international press that Sonia Gandhi is trying to groom him for a chance to become a national-level Congress leader in the future.[16]

In January 2006, at a convention of the Indian National Congress in Hyderabad, thousands of party members asked for Gandhi to take a more prominent leadership role in the party and demanded that he address the delegates. He said “I appreciate and I am grateful for your feelings and support. I assure you I will not let you down”, but asked for patience and declined to immediately seek a higher profile role.[17]

Gandhi and his sister managed their mother’s campaign for reelection to Rae Bareilly in 2006, which was won easily with a margin greater than 400,000 votes.[18]

He was a prominent figure in a high profile Congress campaign for the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections; Congress, however, won only 22 seats with 8.53% of votes. The election saw the Bahujan Samaj Party, which represents low caste Indians, to become the first party to govern in its own right in Uttar Pradesh for 16 years.[19]

Rahul Gandhi was appointed a general secretary of the All India Congress Committee on 24 September 2007 in a reshuffle of the party secretariat.[20] In the same reshuffle, he was also given charge of the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India.[21]

In his attempt to prove himself as a youth leader in November 2008 he held interviews at his 12, Tughlak Lane residence in New Delhi to handpick at least 40 people who will make up the think-tank of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC), an organisation that he has been keen to transform since he was appointed general secretary in September 2007.[22]

Senior Congress leaders such as Pranab Mukherjee, Digvijay Singh and Arjun Singh have raised calls for Rahul Gandhi to be the candidate for Prime Minister. It is felt because of his young age and clean image, he would be able to connect with the youth of India who form the majority of the population.

Personal life

In 2004, he reportedly had a Spanish girlfriend, named Veronica, an architect whom he met in England.but due to his involvement in active politics,the relation between the two had broken off[23]

Image

Rahul Gandhi’s legal affairs team has taken a number of legal measures to prevent damage to his image. For example, when Newsweek alleged in late 2006 that he had not completed his degrees at Harvard and Cambridge or kept his job at the Monitor Group, they were slapped with a legal notice, following which they hastily retracted or qualified their earlier statements.[24]

Criticism

Rahul Gandhi counted the 1971 break-up of Pakistan among his family’s “achievements”. This statement invited criticism from several political parties in India, as well as from notable people in Pakistan including the Foreign Office spokesperson[25]. Well-known historian Irfan Habib remarked that the comments were “..an insult to the Bangladesh movement. Rahul is free to say whatever he wants to, but in a democratic country playing up family is certainly not in good taste.”[26] Also that he has done nothing to get the real message of Jawaharlal Nehru on farmers; to the masses in spite of the engravings at Shantivana on Nehruji’s Samadhi. It is also amazing that the real date of Death, i.e. 27-5-1964, of Jawahar Lal Nehru finds no place in the entire expanse of Shantivan, defeating the purpose of the samadhi of Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru.[27]

During the Uttar Pradesh election campaign in 2007 he said that “if anyone from the Gandhi-Nehru family had been active in politics then, the Babri Masjid would not have fallen”. This was interpreted as an attack on P.V. Narasimha Rao, the Prime Minister during the demolition of the mosque in 1992. Gandhi’s statement triggered a controversy with some members of BJP, the Samajwadi Party and the Left dubbing him as both “anti-Hindu” and “anti-Muslim”[28]. His remarks on freedom fighters and the Nehru-Gandhi family have been criticized by BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu who asked “Will the Gandhi family take responsibility for imposition of emergency?”[29]

In late 2008, an apparent snub to Rahul Gandhi revealed the power wielded by him. Gandhi was prevented from using the auditorium at the Chandra Shekhar Azad Agriculture University to address students, possibly as a manipulation by Mayawati[30]. Subsequently, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, V.K. Suri, was ousted by the governor, T.V. Rajeswar, a Gandhi family appointee[31]. The incident was cited as evidence of the politicization of education, and a cartoon in the Times of India by Ajit Ninan went: “Dynasty related questions are answered by Rahulji’s foot soldiers.”[32]

His statement that during his year-long stay at his college St Stephen, students who asked questions in class “were looked down upon” evoked a strict denial from his college. He said that when he was studying at St Stephen’s College, asking a question was not (perceived to be) good in our class and one was looked down upon if you asked too many questions. Teachers at the college said Gandhi’s statement could at best be “his personal experience” and not a ground for generalisation of the academic environment at St Stephen’s.[33]

During the brutal Mumbai Terrorist attacks in November 2008, Rahul Gandhi was criticised for partying at a time when the entire nation was in mourning. Reports stated that Rahul Gandhi was partying with his friends in a wedding function in a farmhouse in New Delhi, even as Indian security forces battled Pakistani terrorists out of Mumbai.

Response to Mumbai attacks in November

Rahul Gandhi admitted that the terrorist attacks were a slap in the face of government.[34]

See also

  • Political Families of The World
  • Indian National Congress
  • Nehru-Gandhi Dynasty

References

  1. ^ Vidya Subrahmaniam (18 April 2004). “Gandhi detergent washes away caste”. The Times of India. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  2. ^ Sudip Mazumdar (25 December 2006). “Charisma Is Not Enough”. Newsweek International. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  3. ^ M.V.Kamath. “Does Congress want to perpetuate Nehru-Gandhi dynasty?”. Samachar. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  4. ^ a b George Iype (23 March 2004). “Rahul Gandhi: Up Close & Personal”. Rediff.com. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  5. ^ “[searchindia.com/search/indian-politicians-rajiv-gandhi.html Indian Politician – Profile of Rajiv Gandhi]”. Retrieved on 2007-02-09.
  6. ^ a b Sanjay Hazarika (July 16, 1989). “Foes of Gandhi make targets of his children”. New York Times. Retrieved on 2008-12-12.
  7. ^ The Hindu Frontline magazine, 10-23 April 2004
  8. ^ The Hindustan Times, 16 January 2007
  9. ^ “The Great White Hope: The Son Also Rises”.
  10. ^ Want to be CEO of Rahul Gandhi’s firm?
  11. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | Musharraf mother meets Indian PM
  12. ^ a b c BBC NEWS | South Asia | Gandhi fever in Indian heartlands
  13. ^ a b BBC NEWS | South Asia | Rahul attacks ‘divisive’ politics
  14. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | The riddle of Rahul Gandhi
  15. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | India elections: Good day – bad day
  16. ^ The Tribune, Chandigarh, 21 August 2004; The Telegraph India, 20 May 2006; BBC News, 26 May 2004.
  17. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | Rahul Gandhi declines party role
  18. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | India’s communists upbeat over future
  19. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | Uttar Pradesh low caste landslide
  20. ^ “Rahul Gandhi gets Congress post”, BBC News (2007-19-24). Retrieved on 24 September 2007. 
  21. ^ “Rahul Gandhi gets Youth Congress Charge”, The Hindu (2007-19-25). Retrieved on 25 September 2007. 
  22. ^ “Rahul Gandhi’s talent hunt”, The Economic Times (2008-11-07). Retrieved on 7 November 2008. 
  23. ^ Indian Express
  24. ^ Newsweek apologises to Rahul Gandhi
  25. ^ Subramanian, Nirupama (April 16, 2007). “Pakistan resents Rahul’s remarks”, The hindu. 
  26. ^ Islamic clerics fume over Rahul remarks Hindustan Times – April 16, 2007
  27. ^ [1]Nehruji’s tryst with destiny
  28. ^ I appreciate Narasimha Rao: Rahul Gandhi Times of India – April 4, 2007
  29. ^ BJP takes strong exception to Rahul’s statement Hindustan Times – April 15, 2007.
  30. ^ Now, Maya locks Rahul out of Kanpur college (2008-10-25). “Manjari Mishra & Bhaskar Roy”, Times of India. 
  31. ^ UP Governor obliges Gandhi family (2008-11-04). “Subhash Mishra”, India Today. 
  32. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/thumb.cms?msid=3638569&width=200&resizemode=4
  33. ^ “Rahul Gandhi’s dig irks St Stephen’s”, DNA (2008-10-23). Retrieved on 13 November 2008. 
  34. ^ http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/patil-quits-chidambaram-to-be-home-minister/00/46/341824/

External links

Lok Sabha
Preceded by
Sonia Gandhi
Member for Amethi
2004 – present
Incumbent
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