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Rahul Gandhi

Member of Parliament and a General Secretary of the Indian National Congress
Incumbent
Assumed office 
2004
Constituency Amethi , Uttar Pradesh

Born 19 June 1970 (1970-06-19) (age 39)
New Delhi, India
Political party Indian National Congress
Residence New Delhi
Alma mater Rollins College (B.A.)
Cambridge University (M.Phil.)

Rahul Gandhi (Hindi: राहुल गांधी) (born 19 June 1970) is an Indian politician and member of the Parliament of India, representing the Amethi constituency.[1] His political party is the Indian National Congress.[2] He belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi family, the most prominent political family in India. In 2009, he turned down a cabinet post in the Manmohan Singh government.

Contents

Early life

Rahul Gandhi was born in New Delhi, the first amongst 2 children of Rajiv Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India and Sonia Gandhi, the current Congress President. He is the elder brother of Priyanka Gandhi. His grandmother was Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.[3]

He attended Modern School, New Delhi[4] before entering the The Doon School, also his father's alma mater,[5] from 1981-83 before being home-schooled for security reasons.[6] Starting university at Harvard, he got his B.A. from Rollins College, Florida in 1994[7] due to interruptions in his studies caused by security concerns after his father's assassination. He received an M.Phil. in Development Studies in 1995 from Trinity College, Cambridge.[8]

Career

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Corporate career

Rahul Gandhi, after graduating worked with management guru, Michael Porter's Management consulting firm, Monitor Group.[9] for three years. His colleagues at the firm had no idea who they were working with— as he was using an assumed name (Raul Vinci). He returned to India in late 2002 to run an engineering and technology outsourcing firm in Mumbai.[10]

Political career

In 2003, there was widespread media speculation about Rahul Gandhi's imminent entry into national politics, which he did not confirm.[11] He appeared with his mother at public events and Congress meetings.[11] He also traveled to Pakistan on a goodwill visit to watch the first cricket series between the countries in 14 years in a One Day International with his sister Priyanka Gandhi.[12]

Speculation heightened in January 2004 about his and his sister's possible entry into politics when they visited their father's former constituency of Amethi, which their mother held at the time. He refused to give a definitive response, stating "I am not averse to politics. I have not decided when I will enter politics and indeed, if I ever will."[13]

In March 2004, he announced his entry into politics by announcing that he would contest the May 2004 elections, standing for his father's former constituency of Amethi in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha, India's lower house of Parliament.[14] Before that, his uncle Sanjay held the seat before a plane crash. The seat had been held by his mother until she transferred to the neighbouring seat of Rae Bareilly. The Congress had been doing poorly in Uttar Pradesh, holding only 10 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state at the time.[13] At the time, this move generated surprise among political commentators, who had regarded his sister Priyanka as being the more charismatic and likely to succeed. Party officials did not have a curriculum vitae ready for the media, such was the surprise of his move. It generated speculation that the presence of a young member of India's most famous political family would reinvigorate the Congress party's political fortunes among India's youthful population[15] In his first interview with foreign media, he portrayed himself as a uniter of the country and condemned "divisive" politics in India, saying that he would try to reduce caste and religious tensions.[14] His candidacy was greeted with excitement by locals, who had a long standing affinity with the family's presence in the area.[13] , Politician of Indian National Congress He won with a landslide majority, retaining the family stronghold with a margin of over 100,000 as the Congress unexpectedly defeated the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.[16] His campaign was directed by his younger sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadhera.[citation needed] Till 2006 he held no other office and concentrated mainly on constituency issues and the politics of Uttar Pradesh, and it was widely speculated in the Indian and international press that Sonia Gandhi is trying to groom him for a chance to become a national-level Congress leader in the future.[17]

In January 2006, at a convention of the Indian National Congress in Hyderabad, thousands of party members asked for Gandhi to take a more prominent leadership role in the party and demanded that he address the delegates. He said "I appreciate and I am grateful for your feelings and support. I assure you I will not let you down", but asked for patience and declined to immediately seek a higher profile role.[18]

Gandhi and his sister (married to Robert Vadhera) managed their mother's campaign for reelection to Rae Bareilly in 2006, which was won easily with a margin greater than 400,000 votes.[19]

He was a prominent figure in a high profile Congress campaign for the 2007 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections; Congress, however, won only 22 seats with 8.53% of votes. The election saw the Bahujan Samaj Party, which represents low caste Indians, to become the first party to govern in its own right in Uttar Pradesh for 16 years.[20]

Rahul Gandhi was appointed a general secretary of the All India Congress Committee on 24 September 2007 in a reshuffle of the party secretariat.[21] In the same reshuffle, he was also given charge of the Youth Congress and the National Students Union of India.[22]

In his attempt to prove himself as a youth leader in November 2008 he held interviews at his 12, Tughlak Lane residence in New Delhi to handpick at least 40 people who will make up the think-tank of the Indian Youth Congress (IYC), an organisation that he has been keen to transform since he was appointed general secretary in September 2007.[23]

Rahul Gandhi participated in an interactive session with students of Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. The Universtity student unions have been traditionally dominated by the Left. His party, INC, however, was quick to play up Rahul's visit to JNU as an “excellent example of youth participation in politics”. Rahul's grandmother, Indira Gandhi had to face huge opposition from Left student unions during her visit to the university campus in 1982 because of her decision to impose emergency.[24] Rahul was quizzed by the students on issues ranging from hiearchial politics in India, to his visits to Dalit Houses, economic growth in the country and education reforms. Some papers, however, reported Rahul's visit to JNU as a political attempt to strengthen the newly constituted unit of NSUI at JNU.[24]

2009 Elections

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he retained his Amethi constutuency by defeating his nearest rival by a margin of over 333,000 votes. In these elections congress is said to have revived itself in Uttar Pradesh by winning 21 out of the total 80 Lok Sabha seats and the majority of the credit for this turnaround is given to Rahul Gandhi.[25] He spoke at 125 rallies across the country in six weeks.

He is referred to as RG in party circles.[26]

Criticism

In late 2008, an apparent snub to Gandhi revealed the power wielded by him. Gandhi was prevented from using the auditorium at the Chandra Shekhar Azad Agriculture University to address students, as a result of political manipulation by the Chief Minister Mayawati[27]. Subsequently, the Vice-Chancellor of the university, V.K. Suri, was ousted by the Governor Shri T.V. Rajeswar (who is also the Chancellor), a Gandhi family supporter and appointer of Suri.[28]. The incident was cited as evidence of the politicization of education, and a cartoon in the Times of India by Ajit Ninan went: "Dynasty related questions are answered by Rahulji’s foot soldiers."[29]

Austerity Drive

Rahul Gandhi had advised austerity for all the Congress members and claims to wear simple clothes and not waste money. He said it is the duty of all politicians to be austere.[30] It is alleged that he has a personal biking track as well as one for go-karting.[31] Rahul Gandhi has a ministerial bungalow (He is only a 2-term MP), and a fully equipped gym at home. He is a regular member of at least two of the Delhi's poshest gyms, and one of them is 5-star.[32] Rahul Gandhi's trip to Chennai to campaign for austerity cost the party Rs 1 Crore.[33] Rahul Gandhi took a train in AC chair car to Ludhiana and saved Rs 445.[34] Rahul Gandhi traveled back to New Delhi in the Swarn Shatabdi Express, which was stoned for unknown reasons.[35]. His recent visit to Kerala invited much criticism despite the fact that he traveled class. Six bullet proof cars were brought in for his visit from Delhi.

Causes Célèbres

Swiss Bank Accounts

Swiss magazine Schweizer Illustrierte [2] in 11 November 1991 revealed that Rahul was the beneficiary of accounts worth $2 billion dollars controlled by his mother Sonia Gandhi.[36][37]

Harvard scholar Yevgenia Albats cited KGB correspondence about payments to Rajiv Gandhi and his family, which had been arranged by Viktor Chebrikov,[38] which shows that KGB chief Viktor Chebrikov sought in writing an "authorization to make payments in US dollars to the family members of Rajiv Gandhi, namely Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Paola Maino, mother of Sonia Gandhi" from the CPSU in December 1985. Payments were authorized by a resolution, CPSU/CC/No 11228/3 dated 20/12/1985; and endorsed by the USSR Council of Ministers in Directive No 2633/Rs dated 20/12/1985. These payments had been coming since 1971, as payments received by Sonia Gandhi's family and "have been audited in CPSU/CC resolution No 11187/22 OP dated 10/12/1984.[39] In 1992 the media confronted the Russian government with the Albats disclosure. The Russian government confirmed the veracity of the disclosure and defended it as necessary for "Soviet ideological interest."[38]

On 14 June 2002, the Delhi High Court peremptorily dismissed a Writ Petition (WP(C) 3856/2002)[40] filed by Janata Party President, former Union minister and frivolous litigator Dr. Subramanian Swamy[41] seeking CBI inquiry into allegations by a Russian journalist Dr. Albats that KGB funds were paid to members of the Gandhi family.[citation needed]

Boston Airport

On September 21, 2001 Rahul and his Spanish girlfriend Veronique[42] were detained by the FBI at Boston airport for questioning. Four lawyers including Prem Chandra Sharma filed a public litigation petition in the High Court requesting more information be made available to the public in regards to the detainment, and verification if Mr. Gandhi was carrying $200,000 in cash which he was unable to explain to the airport authorities. The lawyers provided further evidence that Mr. Gandhi's release may have been secured by Brajesh Misra the then principal secretary to the Prime Minister. The petition sought a writ of mandamus to the Indian ambassador to the US as well as the union home secretary to make a disclosure about the entire episode.[43] However previously, The Hindu newspaper had reported that according to "a senior" Indian diplomat there had been no involvement from the Indian envoy to the US in the matter.[44]

Poverty Tour

In January 2009 he was severely criticised for the "Poverty Tourism Tour," which he had with British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, in a village near Amethi, his parliamentary constituency in Uttar Pradesh. It was further considered as "greatest diplomatic disaster" because of Miliband's unsolicited advice on terrorism and Pakistan as well as the way he conducted himself in his closed-door meetings with Mr. Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.[45]

Education

Gandhi's legal affairs team responded, when Newsweek alleged in late-2006 that he had not completed his degrees at Harvard and Cambridge or kept his job at the Monitor Group, by issuing a legal notice, following which the news outlet hastily retracted or qualified their earlier statements.[46]

His admission to St Stephen's College was controversial as he was admitted on the basis of his abilities as a competitive pistol shooter, which was disputed.[6] He left the college in 1990, after one year of education.[4]

His statement that during his year-long stay at St Stephen's, students who asked questions in class “were looked down upon” evoked a strict denial from the college. He said that when he was studying at St Stephen’s College, asking a question was not (perceived to be) good in our class and one was looked down upon if you asked too many questions. Teachers at the college said Gandhi’s statement could at best be “his personal experience” and not a grounds for generalisation of the academic environment at St Stephen’s.[47]

Family pride

During the Uttar Pradesh election campaign in 2007, he said that "if anyone from the Gandhi-Nehru family had been active in politics then, the Babri Masjid would not have fallen". This was interpreted as an attack on P.V. Narasimha Rao, the Prime Minister who headed the Congress-led government during the demolition of the mosque in 1992. Gandhi's statement triggered a controversy with some members of BJP, the Samajwadi Party and the Left, who variously dubbed him as both "anti-Hindu" and "anti-Muslim"[48].

His remarks on members of India's independence movement and the Nehru-Gandhi family have been criticized by BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu who asked "Will the Gandhi family take responsibility for imposition of emergency?"[49]

Break-up of Pakistan

Gandhi counted the 1971 break-up of Pakistan among his family's "achievements". Though this is a misconception this statement invited criticism from several political parties in India, as well as from notable people in Pakistan including the Foreign Office spokesperson[50]. Well-known historian Irfan Habib remarked that the comments were "..an insult to the Bangladesh movement." [51]

See also

References

  1. ^ Vidya Subrahmaniam (18 April 2004). "Gandhi detergent washes away caste". The Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/623458.cms. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  2. ^ Sudip Mazumdar (25 December 2006). "Charisma Is Not Enough". Newsweek International. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16241337/site/newsweek/. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  3. ^ M.V.Kamath. "Does Congress want to perpetuate Nehru-Gandhi dynasty?". Samachar. http://www.samachar.com/features/290905-features.html. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  4. ^ a b George Iype (23 March 2004). "Rahul Gandhi: Up Close & Personal". Rediff.com. http://www.rediff.com/election/2004/mar/23espec1.htm. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  5. ^ [searchindia.com/search/indian-politicians-rajiv-gandhi.html "Indian Politician - Profile of Rajiv Gandhi"]. searchindia.com/search/indian-politicians-rajiv-gandhi.html. Retrieved 2007-02-09. 
  6. ^ a b Sanjay Hazarika (16 July 1989). "Foes of Gandhi make targets of his children". New York Times. http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=950DEEDE1130F935A25754C0A96F948260&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss. Retrieved 2008-12-12. 
  7. ^ The Hindustan Times, 16 January 2007
  8. ^ "Cambridge varsity confirms Rahul’s qualifications". The Hindu. 29 April 2009. http://www.hindu.com/2009/04/29/stories/2009042961201100.htm. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  9. ^ "The Great White Hope: The Son Also Rises". http://www.rediff.com/news/2004/apr/13rajeev.htm. 
  10. ^ Want to be CEO of Rahul Gandhi's firm?
  11. ^ a b "Rahul Gandhi coming into his own?". The Times of India. 18 Jan 2003. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/34775615.cms. Retrieved 2009-05-17. 
  12. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | Musharraf mother meets Indian PM
  13. ^ a b c BBC NEWS | South Asia | Gandhi fever in Indian heartlands
  14. ^ a b BBC NEWS | South Asia | Rahul attacks 'divisive' politics
  15. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | The riddle of Rahul Gandhi
  16. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | India elections: Good day - bad day
  17. ^ The Tribune, Chandigarh, 21 August 2004; The Telegraph India, 20 May 2006; BBC News, 26 May 2004.
  18. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | Rahul Gandhi declines party role
  19. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | India's communists upbeat over future
  20. ^ BBC NEWS | South Asia | Uttar Pradesh low caste landslide
  21. ^ "Rahul Gandhi gets Congress post". BBC News. 24 zzz19zzz 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/7010099.stm. Retrieved 2007-09-24. 
  22. ^ "Rahul Gandhi gets Youth Congress Charge". The Hindu. 25 zzz19zzz 2007. http://www.hindu.com/2007/09/25/stories/2007092550240100.htm. Retrieved 2007-09-25. 
  23. ^ "Rahul Gandhi's talent hunt". The Economic Times. 7 November 2008. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/PoliticsNation/Rahul_Gandhis_secret_talent_hunt/articleshow/3684740.cms. Retrieved 2008-11-07. 
  24. ^ a b "Cong, NCP hail 'revolutionary' Gandhi scion's visit to JNU". The Economic Times. 1 October 2009. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/Cong-NCP-hail-revolutionary-Gandhi-scions-visit-to-JNU/articleshow/5074446.cms. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  25. ^ "Sonia secures biggest margin, Rahul follows". The Times of India (Bennett Coleman & Co. Ltd.). 18 May 2009. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Lucknow/Sonia-secures-biggest-margin-Rahul-follows/articleshow/4544401.cms. Retrieved 2009-05-18. 
  26. ^ http://www.outlookindia.com/full.asp?fodname=20090601&fname=Cover+Story&sid=1&pn=3
  27. ^ Now, Maya locks Rahul out of Kanpur college (25 October 2008). "Manjari Mishra & Bhaskar Roy". Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Rahul_Gandhi_hits_back_says_Maya_govt_vindictive/articleshow/3637525.cms. 
  28. ^ UP Governor obliges Gandhi family (4 November 2008). "Subhash Mishra". India Today. http://indiatoday.digitaltoday.in/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19435&sectionid=4&issueid=78&Itemid=1. 
  29. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshowpics/3638569.cms
  30. ^ http://www.indianexpress.com/news/austerity-rahul-says-look-at-me-bjp-offers-tharoor-options/515656/
  31. ^ http://www.merinews.com/article/advocating-austerity-in-indian-politics/15784101.shtml
  32. ^ http://ibnlive.in.com/blogs/suhasinihaidar/218/53798/flying-false-economy.html
  33. ^ http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/Politics/Nation/Austerity-Cong-word-for-boomerang/articleshow/5024801.cms
  34. ^ http://news.in.msn.com/national/article.aspx?cp-documentid=3226867&page=2
  35. ^ http://www.headlinesindia.com/crime/vandalism/rahul-gandhis-train-stoned-in-haryana-reaches-delhi-22547.html
  36. ^ http://www.zeenews.com/news528156.html
  37. ^ http://www.americanthinker.com/2005/09/sonia_gandhis_reluctant_war_on_1.html
  38. ^ a b Can Corrupt Politicians Preserve Freedom?
  39. ^ Albats. KGB: The State Within a State. Translated from the Russian by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick. 1995. ISBN 1850439958, ISBN 9781850439950. First edition in 1994, ISBN 0374527385, ISBN 9780374527389.
  40. ^ http://courtnic.nic.in/dhcorder/dhccontent.asp enter the case details
  41. ^ http://www.tribuneindia.com/2006/20060104/nation.htm#16
  42. ^ http://www.expressindia.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=30839
  43. ^ http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/India/articleshow/msid-1045368,curpg-2.cms
  44. ^ http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/2001/09/30/stories/02300003.htm
  45. ^ "Stop Poverty Toursim". Indian Express. 18 January 2009. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/lets-stop-this-poverty-tourism/412069/. Retrieved 2009-02-26. 
  46. ^ [1]
  47. ^ "Rahul Gandhi's dig irks St Stephen’s". DNA. 23 October 2008. http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?newsid=1200297. Retrieved 2008-11-13. 
  48. ^ I appreciate Narasimha Rao: Rahul Gandhi Times of India - 4 April 2007
  49. ^ BJP takes strong exception to Rahul's statement Hindustan Times - 15 April 2007.
  50. ^ Subramanian, Nirupama (16 April 2007). "Pakistan resents Rahul's remarks". The hindu. http://www.hindu.com/2007/04/16/stories/2007041610070100.htm. 
  51. ^ Islamic clerics fume over Rahul remarks Hindustan Times - 16 April 2007

External links

Lok Sabha
Preceded by
Sonia Gandhi
Member for Amethi
2004 – present
Incumbent

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