The assembly election results for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh have reinvigorated the Congress which has witnessed prolonged electoral losses since 2014. While in Chhattisgarh the party delivered a stunning performance, setting itself up to win more than a two-thirds majority, in Rajasthan it fell short by one seat and in Madhya Pradesh by two seats. However, forming government in these two states will not be a hurdle for the Congress as already the Mayawati-led BSP and Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party have offered support to Congress to ‘keep the BJP out.’
The current election outcome will not only boost Rahul Gandhi’s stature as the Opposition’s tallest leader, it will also give the Congress the much-needed fillip in the run-up to the 2019 elections.
Rahul Gandhi equated the results as a “clear message” by the people to the Modi government that they are not happy with Centre and it is time for a change. He said PM Modi got a massive mandate in 2014 but refused to listen to “heartbeat of the country.” The party also believes that the results will boost Congress-partnered battles in Maharashtra, Karnataka, Jharkhand, Bihar, UP and Jammu and Kashmir, which account for 214 Lok Sabha seats.
But despite India’s grand old party’s impressive win, the question remains: who will be CM? For the uninitiated the party decided not to name the CM candidates in these elections to ensure that all aspirants worked unitedly for the party’s victory.
State Congress chief Sachin Pilot and former Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, are both the front-runners for the post of chief minister of Rajasthan. However, Rahul Gandhi will take a final call to decide between the two. Media reports suggest that Rahul is against the old guard, probably paving the way for next-gen leaders take the centre stage. Pilot has been instrumental in helping the party coming close to victory. To strengthen the party at the grassroots level and ensure its comeback, the young leader travelled through the length and breadth of the state. He connects equally well to both urban and rural youth and is well known for his hands-on approach. Appealing to youth during election rallies, he has promised them good schools, sports facilities and secure environment to achieve their full potential. Clearly, the youth of the state find their voice in this leader. He was elected as lawmaker from his father’s constituency Dausa in 2004 and became the youngest member of the parliament.
In MP, state unit chief Kamal Nath and campaign committee chief Jyotiraditya Scindia are top contenders for the CM post. But Scindia has an edge over Nath in his ability to connect with the youth – which forms 44 per cent of the voters in the region. Jyotiraditya Scindia, 47, is the titular Maharaja of erstwhile Gwalior State and the son of Madhav Rao Scindia. Jyotiraditya enjoys mass appeal in the state and in most of the pre-election surveys, the voters had chosen Scindia as their preferred choice for the chief minister’s post. When asked about his opinion regarding the post, he said, “I am a servant of the people and will always be. What form that will take, be it through Madhya Pradesh or as minister of central government or chief whip, it is for my party to decide.”
Given that India is young country, so it would be appropriate for political parties to select young leaders so that they serve the young aspirational masses.