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Can India’s Oldest Party Reinvent Itself?

The storied Indian National Congress, India’s main opposition party, finds itself at a crossroads, following a series of electoral defeats. Its upcoming presidential election is an opportunity to energize India’s “grand old party” and position it as a clear ideological alternative to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalism.

NEW DELHI – This month, for the first time in nearly 25 years, the Indian National Congress, India’s main opposition party, will elect a president who is not a member of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. The family, whose history is inextricably linked to India’s “grand old party,” has decided not to enter the leadership race, thus providing Congress a unique opportunity to revitalize itself ahead of the crucial 2024 general election.

I am one of the two candidates, along with Congress veteran Mallikarjun Kharge.

The Nehru-Gandhi family’s decision to step aside, together with the potential implications for the 2024 election, has revived public interest in Congress. It has also provided a welcome distraction from the party’s infighting and latest electoral defeats. As the 9,000 party delegates cast their ballots, former Congress leader Rahul Gandhi will lead marchers from Kanyakumari to Kashmir as part of the party’s 150-day “national unity march” (Bharat Jodo Yatra).

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