• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG

Jun 27, 2024, 12:03pm EDT
politicsSouth Asia
icon

Semafor Signals

In becoming India’s opposition leader, Rahul Gandhi gains legitimacy as well as power



Arrow Down
Adnan Abidi/File Photo/Reuters
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

Rahul Gandhi will assume office this week as leader of the opposition in India’s Parliament, the Lok Sabha, filling a post that has lain vacant for the entirety of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decade-long tenure.

As leader of the opposition, Gandhi will get various perks including a government bungalow and an increased salary, according to The Economic Times.

AD

His role is a reflection of his Congress party’s resurgence. It secured more than 10% of the Lok Sabha seats in the country’s recent general election, which saw Modi returned to power but in a diminished form, forced to rely on support from allies for a majority.

icon

SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Gandhi may have ditched his ‘unserious’ image once and for all

Source icon
Sources:  
The Economist, The Times of India, The Economic Times, BBC

Gandhi has long been regarded as “unserious, spoilt, and ill-suited to politics,” as The Economist put it in 2023 — a line used by his opponents ahead of India’s election last month, The Times of India reported. But Gandhi’s Congress party nearly doubled its seat tally in June, a moment that could be his political “coming of age” as a credible challenger to Modi, The Economic Times wrote. Alongside the privileges that come with being an opposition leader, Gandhi’s words will “carry more weight and impact,” and the BJP will no longer be able to so easily dismiss him, the outlet said. But Gandhi’s mettle will finally be tested, too, as the one responsible if and when things go wrong, a political commentator told the BBC.

Leading — and keeping together — the opposition may not prove easy

Source icon
Source:  
South China Morning Post

For all his gains, there’s still a risk of exaggerating Gandhi’s newfound political capital, an analyst told the South China Morning Post: The BJP’s vote share remains almost double that of Congress, so Gandhi still has a fight on his hands in states where his party is in direct confrontation with the BJP. Although Gandhi deserves credit for keeping the opposition alliance together, one member is already urging Congress to ditch some of its more left-leaning partners, and he’ll have to stay “innovative” to continue countering the BJP, another added.

A leader of the opposition may be a win for accountability

Source icon
Sources:  
BBC, The Times of India, Al Jazeera

Opposition parties have consistently accused Modi’s government of misusing central agencies, including by deliberately withholding campaign funds, but in his new role, Gandhi can now watch over key government appointments and be privy to the deliberations of various panels, The Times of India noted. But corruption finances Indian politics in a way that is “systemic,” a journalist argued for the India-based Impact and Policy Research Institute, and members of Gandhi’s coalition have been mired in corruption allegations of their own related to the electoral bonds scandal, which saw multiple private firms funnel millions of dollars to parties in what activists said were attempts to influence policy, Al Jazeera reported.

Semafor Logo
AD