Rahul Gandhi, the 42-year-old scion of India’s most famous and powerful family, is widely unpopular, according to a recent India Today poll of almost 13,000 Indians. The poll also found that the Congress Party, which Rahul is expected to lead into next year’s national elections, is on track to drop 50 seats in parliament (to around 160); Congress’s main rival BJP and its allies are projected to end up with over 200 seats.
It doesn’t look good for the young and handsome Rahul, who many Indians say is out of touch. “Rahul Gandhi’s had almost 10 years to demonstrate his understanding of [India’s] problems … I think the jury is back in, he doesn’t understand the problems,” said the Financial Times‘ Edward Luce during a speech at the Jaipur literary festival this morning. The audience applauded.
Only 22 percent of Indians, according to the India Today poll, think Rahul will be a good prime minister. Narendra Modi, the hardline Hindu nationalist and expected BJP candidate for prime minister, on the other hand, has a 36 percent approval rating.
Rahul has until now tried to avoid the spotlight, declining prominent government posts when they were offered to him.
That reluctance has come to an end. Unable to avoid his destiny Rahul recently accepted the post of party vice president, perhaps with nudging from family and Congress leaders. He doesn’t want to let them down. “The Congress Party is now my life. The people of India are my life … And I will fight for the people of India and for this party. I will fight with everything I have.”