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Turned 'youth factor' into a variable in Indian politics when he became MP in 2004. The 'gamechanging' strategy gave Congress the advantage in 2009 polls when Rahul's comparison with BJP star campaigner L K Advani paid off. The carpet bombing with over 150 rallies across India consolidated the new voting group in favour of Congress. Embarked on a unique experiment to turn the party's youth bodies into democratic setups with regular elections. Till now, the nominations of office-bearers resulted in cries of nepotism, with persistent non-cooperation from the side losing out in nominations. Insisted that Congress has to go alone in elections to revive the organisation in UP and Bihar. His strategy led to the Congress rebuffing the offer of a tieup with the SP in Uttar Pradesh. This translated into major gains for the moribund party in 2009, with 21 LS seats from UP. Showed a ruthless streak by campaigning in 2009 Ferozabad Lok Sabha bypoll and defeating Akhilesh Yadav's wife. Till then, the unwritten rule was that big leaders did not campaign in bypolls, especially on seats vacated by rival satraps. Demonstrated what leading by example means he dashed off to Mumbai for a surprise travel in local trains in the midst of MNS-Shiv Sena campaign against North Indians. The Senas didn't know how to respond when the young leader clarified that Congress did not support the parochial tone of Maharashtra politics, nudging the state government to talk tough. Embarked on extensive visits to UP over four years that stoked anger against Mayawati regime. His forays into dalit villages to eat and sleep with the residents put the BSP supremo on the defensive against charges that her brand of identity politics did little for dalit upliftment.
Rahul Gandhi failed to devise a strategy to harvest his personal goodwill into something substantial organisationally. It has remained a one-man show, with state leaders failing to rise above groupism to boost the organisational muscle. Congress was decimated in Bihar, and then in Uttar Pradesh, exposing the limitations of Rahul's one-man, poll campaign. This, despite the major gains registered in UP in 2009. The the litmus test of UP polls failed miserably in 2012. Rahul campaigned extensively but without anything to show in the results. Made a bad decision by making 'Muslim quota' the main party poll plank in UP. It backfired by distancing upper castes and OBCs from the party. The strategy to divide OBCs and dalits, polarised by the rival SP and BSP through subquotas, was left for the 11th hour. It failed to strike a chord with the beneficiaries among Mandal Classes. The democratisation experiment in NSUI and Youth Congress has been hijacked by senior leaders, who have repeatedly ensured the victories of their kin or cronies. The negative trend is attributed to the impression created that Rahul was looking for a new young leadership across districts to supplant the old one.
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