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Gandhi has reiterated his commitment to building a strong, united and vibrant Congress party.
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Recent wins: In December, Gandhi’s Indian National Congress (INC)scored surprising victories in the country’s national assembly elections in the states of Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, all part of the “Hindi Belt” previously dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP party. During the campaign, Gandhi gained votes from large swathes of the population by highlighting issues related to corruption in government, unemployment and agrarian issues.
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Eyes on a scandal: In recent months, Gandhi has repeatedly focused much of his attention on India’s controversial purchase of 36 Rafale fighter aircraft from French defence company Dassault. The $8.9bn deal – for which not a single jet has been delivered – has allowed Gandhi to frame Modi’s government as prone to corruption and guilty of ‘crony capitalism’ after it chose business tycoon Anil Ambani’s Reliance Defence as a domestic partner despite a lack of experience in aviation.
MONEY SHARMA/AFP/Getty Images
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Criticisms backfires: Over the years, Modi and the BJP have repeatedly characterised Gandhi as a “pappu”, or naïve young boy, and said that his presence in Indian politics is largely due to being a member of the prominent Nehru-Gandhi family. These attacks have led to increased interest in Gandhi, who now stands ahead of Modi as the most searched for Indian politician on Google News as well as the most likely to be re-tweeted on Twitter, despite Modi having a larger following.