The End of His Story? Rahul Gandhi will be a ripe 63 in his next Lok Sabha contest if defamation conviction stands

The End of His Story? Rahul Gandhi will be a ripe 63 in his next Lok Sabha contest if defamation conviction stands

The End of His Story? Rahul Gandhi will be a ripe 63 in his next Lok Sabha contest if defamation conviction stands

New Delhi: The Lok Sabha elections of 2024 are not the question; that mark stands pushed a decade away to 2034 because that’s when Congress scion Rahul Gandhi will be able to contest a seat in the Lok Sabha if his conviction by a Surat court in a defamation case from 2019 stands appeal in a higher court.

The conviction carries a jail term of two years, but Rahul Gandhi will not go to a prison immediately as he has been given bail for 30 days to appeal against the verdict. He stands disqualified from membership of the Lok Sabha with effect from the date of conviction.

This is in line with the Representation of People Act. Also, the law lays down that he remains disqualified for another six years after serving his time, in this case two years. Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification, therefore, stands for eight years.

Again, legally speaking Gandhi is surely move a higher court against his conviction. He will have to get the conviction stayed or overturned to save his membership. It is then that he can appeal to the India courts against the Parliament’s decision to disqualify him.

What if the conviction stands?

First things first. Rahul Gandhi is 52 years old. If the conviction—therefore the disqualification—stands, then he surely will not be able to contest in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections.

Do the math, it is simple. He is also going to warm the benches in the 2029 General Elections of India.

He would be eligible to be fielded once again in the electoral battle of India only in the Lok Sabha elections of 2034.

Rahul Gandhi, often referred to as a Young Turk even at 52, will be all of 63 by then. That’s about as old as Indira Gandhi in 1981, her triumphant ‘Garibi Hataao’ comeback. Mrs Gandhi was 49 when she first became prime minister. Her son Rajiv was 40 when he filled her shoes in 1984.

Rahul Gandhi is thus practically out of the race for leading the Congress, or any Opposition formation led by Congress and of course the prime ministerial race.

Consider the dynamics within the Congress now. Not that there have not been voices of protest (rebellion as the Gandhi family has chosen to see them) against the leadership of the Gandhis.

Ghulam Nabi Azad is out. Sachin Pilot is hanging by a thread. Jyotiraditya Scindia has long jumped ship and is doing quite well in the saffron fold. Look at what happened with Captain Amarinder Singh and Punjab, the monkey balancing in Himachal Pradesh, the slackening of reins in Karnataka. The list is long.

The Gandhi high command installed loyalist Mallikarjun Kharge as party president in sham party elections, to the utter chagrin of Shashi Tharoor, to root out any challenge from within.

This conviction and the consequent removal of Rahul Gandhi from the electoral, therefore, the political front is only going to re0ignite the anti-Gandhi fire within the Congress. This will be the perfect opportunity for the Gandhi-baiters to reshape the Congress leadership. This will be the chance for the dark horses to win the race.

Given this strong possibility, a logical extension is the Balkanisation of the Congress: more regional break-ups, more parties spinning off Congress powered by the dissatisfaction with the Gandhi high command and its iron clutches on the party.

Just indicative, Sachin Pilot, for instance, will be 55 in 2034.