From reluctant prince to Congress chief: A timeline of Rahul Gandhi’s political career


Thirteen years after he formally entered politics, Rahul Gandhi has been crowned king of the Congress and will take over from his mother Sonia as the party’s president.

Here’s a look at some of the key milestones of his political career so far:

1991: Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi is assassinated in Tamil Nadu. Just a fortnight short of his 21st birthday, the political spotlight beckons but his family packs him off to the US for further studies.

2002: After a stint working in London, Rahul Gandhi returns to India.

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2004: After much showing much reluctance, he finally takes the political plunge and joins the Congress. Successfully contests the Lok Sabha election from Amethi, a Nehru-Gandhi bastion in Uttar Pradesh.

2006: Now an MP, Rahul and sister Priyanka manage mother Sonia’s campaign for the bypoll in Rae Barela. She wins by a comfortable margin.

2007: Rahul Gandhi is appointed General Secretary of the Congress. He takes over the youth and student wings of the party. But his turn as star campaigner in the UP Assembly polls fails to bear fruit as the Congress wins just 22 out of 403 seats.

2009: Rahul addresses 125 rallies during the Lok Sabha elections. Retains Amethi and Congress wins a quarter of Uttar Pradesh’s seats as the UPA keeps hold of the Centre.

2011: Gandhi is arrested in Uttar Pradesh’s Bhatta Parsaul for joining a farmers’ agitation against land acquisition. A motorbike ride with a farmer helped him partially shake off his ‘yuvraj’ image.

2012: Rahul Gandhi spearheads the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election campaign, holding more than 200 rallies. But the party returns empty-handed.

2013: Congress appoints Rahul Gandhi as Vice-President

Later that year, he criticises Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and tears up an ordinance that reversed a Supreme Court order barring convicted politicians from contesting elections.

2014: With Rahul as unofficial PM candidate, the Congress recorded its lowest-ever Lok Sabha tally.

2015-2016: Rahul Gandhi takes over state election campaigns, but the party is steadily wiped off the map suffering a series of heavy defeats.

2017: Rahul Gandhi is appointed Congress President just before the high-stakes Gujarat Assembly elections