Raga’s New Avatar Cheers Cong Ranks But would crowds turn into Votes?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

At an election rally in Uttar Pradesh, when Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi imitated the “mitron” idiom of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the audience burst into laughter and cheered him for well over a minute.

The Uttar Pradesh polls could be a defining moment for the Gandhi scion, who is looking more confident, combative and expressive than ever. Sample this: At his first joint presser with Akhilesh Yadav at a five star property in Lucknow, when a reporter introduced himself as a representative of the No. 1 channel, Rahul jokingly took him on.

“Arre aap to Modi ji ho gaye, aap hi number one, aap hi number two our aap hi number three, aur koi nahin,” he said as the crowd of hacks burst into peals of laughter. As the laughter continued, even Akhilesh joined in.

At two rallies — Fatehpur and Rae Bareli on Friday — the Gandhi scion targeted Modi with a Bollywood punch. “When Modi ji came two-and-a-half-years back he was in the (Shahrukh starrer) ‘Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge’ mode, but now he has turned into a Gabbar (of Bollywood classic ‘Sholay’ fame).

With party President Sonia Gandhi unwell and not showing up to campaign, the stubble-sporting, jeans- and kurta-clad 46-year-old Rahul Gandhi seems to be on a high. He and his sister Priyanka played a key role in stitching an electoral alliance with the ruling Samajwadi Party.

The young Gandhi’s mannerisms, interactions and speech delivery have considerably improved, say aides. Even cynical Congress supporters agree.

“I am quite delighted at what I am seeing and hearing,” says Ali Hasan, an old-time Congress supporter from Chowk. “It is certainly a more mature, humble Rahul.”

An office attendant at the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee office told IANS that the changes in “Rahulji’s style” had triggered hope in the rank and file.

Till now the Modi camp was not even noticing the Congress leader. Or so it claimed.

The change in style comes as a soothing balm for the besieged Congress workers in the state where staggered assembly elections began on February 11.

Will the Gandhi aura turn into votes for the SP-Congress alliance and dent Modi’s appeal? The answer will come on March 11 when the votes polled in Uttar Pradesh and four other states get counted.   

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