The absence of Rahul Gandhi is expected to continue, as seen by his skiing images from Gulmarg, announcement of his departure for Cambridge, and the next Cong plenary; leaders say that it may not have mattered.
Rahul Gandhi Skiing in Gulmarg
Rahul Gandhi travelled to Kerala on Sunday for a quick trip to Wayanad. He hadn’t visited his Lok Sabha district in a while, but the timing was noteworthy for another reason: it occurred during the closing moments of Tripura’s election campaign.
In Tripura, the Congress came up empty in 2018. The Northeast as a whole became “Congress-mukt” that same year as the party lost control of Mizoram, its lone surviving state.
This time, the party entered into an ambitious agreement with its longtime opponent Left in Tripura, and considering its 2018 vote total, it was reportedly handed a generous 13 seats. With the anti-incumbency against the BJP administration and the small, bridgeable vote difference between the BJP and CPI(M) in 2018, the new allies are considered as having a decent chance in the state.
The prominent members of Congress avoided the campaign route in spite of this.
Apart from Rahul Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, the president of the Congress, also opted not to campaign in Tripura. It’s noteworthy to note that Kharge visited Jharkhand on Saturday to introduce the party’s Haath se Haath Jodo initiative.
It is doubtful that any of the party’s senior leaders would visit either Nagaland or Meghalaya, which hold elections on February 27. This is a surprise resignation given that the Congress ruled Meghalaya until it was ousted by the National People’s Party (NPP) in 2018.
There are 25 Lok Sabha seats in the Northeast, and the Congress can use every single one.
Unexpectedly, the party scheduled the AICC plenary session for February 24–26 in Raipur while the senior leadership was otherwise busy. And then there are the images from Wednesday showing Rahul Gandhi skiing in Gulmarg rather than travelling to the Northeastern regions.
A top lawmaker expressed concern over the skiing Rahul Gandhi videos on social media and added: “On the other hand, there are pictures on TV networks of Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking at a tribal celebration in Delhi (on Thursday). I’m not claiming that the PM’s event would have changed how the tribal voters voted in Tripura, but it does demonstrate the two candidates’ very different strategies.
Just as Congress leaders were getting used to such images, it was announced that Rahul Gandhi would be going to Cambridge to give a discussion. I’m excited to visit my alma mater, Cambridge University, and give a talk at Cambridge JBS. Rahul Gandhi tweeted, causing many to worry whether he would leave the plenary midway, “Happily to meet with some of the greatest brains in many fields, including geopolitics, international relations, big data, and democracy.
“Shri Rahul Gandhi is not simply the torchbearer of democracy in India… he is an accomplished thinker who strives to improve the public conversation,” the Congress tweeted in support of him.
Several party officials made an effort to downplay Rahul Gandhi and Kharge’s absence from the Northeast campaign scene. “In Tripura, we were running for 13 seats. Given that the Parliament remained in session till February 13, Kharge was quite busy (Monday). Because of the Adani problem, this meeting was very important. Every day, we surrounded the government and the prime minister. According to one senior politician, “the huge political message came from Parliament as a result.
Another politician claimed that the Gandhis’ participation or absence in these elections had little impact. The CPI(M) is the deciding element in Tripura, where the alliance is on the line, but the Congress is in terrible shape in Nagaland, where it failed to win any seats in 2018. Even though it is running for 23 of the 60 seats this time, it has little possibility of taking home more than two or three seats.
The Gandhis no longer serve as vote-getters. Whether or whether they run for office has no bearing. To counteract the Modi effect in most states, the Assembly elections must be fought on local problems. We will succeed if we can pull that off. Just certain states benefit from the absence of Delhi faces, the leader said.
The Congress has no MLAs going into the next elections in Meghalaya as well. It held onto control until 2018, and following that election it was the only major party, but the NPP beat it to the top spot. Later, in 2021, Mukul Sangma, the state’s final chief minister, crossed the Trinamool Congress with close to a dozen party legislators.
Another leader Claimed: “Unlike other states, the Northeast does not hold large public gatherings where officials drop in and address. The majority of the gatherings are tiny, including those held inside. Ajoy Kumar, our general secretary in charge of Tripura, was stationed there the entire time, he said. It is incorrect to claim that we treated the campaign casually.
Just Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, Mukul Wasnik, Deepa Dasmunsi, and Gaurav Gogoi represented the Congress outside of Tripura, along with Delhi leader Alka Lamba who was organising campaign activities there. Kumar was also a member of the party.
Even while AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra participated in the Himachal Pradesh Assembly election, Rahul had abstained from the previous round of voting. Party officials claim that the campaign was centred on regional issues and difficulties, which contributed to the Congress victory in Himachal. The campaign was based on local concerns, which were successful, a leader said. “Priyanka’s participation did assist, since it gave a message that we are serious,” the leader added.