India: Rahul Gandhi replaces Sonia Gandhi as Congress Party leader

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India’s opposition Congress Party elected Rahul Gandhi as its new president on Monday. He is the latest member of the famed Nehru-Gandhi family dynasty to rule the center-left party that has struggled to win elections in recent years.

“The entire Indian National Congress family would like to convey our best wishes to incoming President Rahul Gandhi, and wish him a successful tenure as he continues to lead from the front,” the party wrote on its official Twitter page.

Senior Congress official Mullappally Ramachandran said Gandhi’s election, in which he stood unopposed, was a “historic occasion.”

Rahul has been the party’s deputy leader since 2013 and will be officially appointed on Saturday in New Delhi, taking over from his mother, Sonia, who has led the party since 1998.

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India - Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi (picture-alliance/dpa)

Rahul will be taking over from his 71-year-old mother, Sonia

Political dynasty

Rahul’s father, Rajiv Gandhi, grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and great-grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru, all served as Indian Prime Minister with Jawaharlal serving as the country’s first prime minister after independence from the British Empire in 1947.

That lineage had fanned speculation within the party that leadership would one day pass from Sonia to Rahul.

But Rahul has been criticized for the Congress Party’s repeated failures in recent elections. He led the party’s campaign during the 2014 general election in which it received its worst-ever vote share.

The Congress Party has since lost many regional elections to current Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

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amp/ng (AFP, Reuters, dpa)