Rahul Gandhi, the former president of the Indian National Congress and a former member of Parliament, turns 53 today. He is one of the most prominent faces of the opposition in India and has been vocal about various issues affecting the country. But how much do we know about his life before he joined politics?
Rahul Gandhi was born on June 19, 1970, in New Delhi, to Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi. He belongs to the Nehru-Gandhi family, which has been at the forefront of Indian politics for generations. His grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and his father, Rajiv Gandhi, both served as prime ministers of India and were assassinated by extremists.
Rahul Gandhi attended St. Columba’s School in Delhi and The Doon School in Dehradun for his schooling. However, after his grandmother’s death in 1984, he and his sister Priyanka were home-schooled for security reasons1. He then went to St. Stephen’s College in Delhi for his graduation, where he got admission on the basis of his excellence as a shooter2. However, he soon moved to Harvard University in the US for further studies.
He could not complete his degree at Harvard either, as his father was killed in 1991. He then shifted to Rollins College in Florida, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 19943. He also obtained an MPhil degree in Development Studies from Trinity College, Cambridge, in 19954.
After completing his education, Rahul Gandhi worked as a management consultant with the Monitor Group in London for three years. He then returned to India and set up his own technology consultancy firm, Backops Services Private Ltd., in Mumbai in 20023. He also established another firm called Backops UK5.
Rahul Gandhi entered politics in March 2004, when he announced his candidature for the Lok Sabha elections from Amethi, Uttar Pradesh, a seat that was earlier held by his mother Sonia Gandhi. He won the election by a large margin and became a member of Parliament at the age of 34.
He was re-elected from Amethi in 2009 and 2014. He also became the general secretary of the Congress party in 2007 and the vice-president in 2013. He played a key role in revamping the youth wing and the student wing of the party and campaigned extensively across the country.
In December 2017, he was elected as the president of the Congress party, succeeding his mother Sonia Gandhi. He led the party in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but faced a humiliating defeat at the hands of the Bharatiya Janata Party led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He also lost his own seat in Amethi to BJP’s Smriti Irani.
However, he won another seat from Wayanad, Kerala, where he had contested as a second candidate. He resigned as the Congress president in July 2019, taking responsibility for the electoral debacle. His mother Sonia Gandhi took over as the interim president of the party.
Since then, Rahul Gandhi has been active as a member of Parliament from Wayanad and a vocal critic of the Modi government on various issues such as Covid-19 pandemic, farmers’ protests, economy, national security and foreign policy. He has also travelled abroad several times to meet foreign leaders and experts.
He has also faced several controversies and legal cases over his speeches and statements against Modi and other BJP leaders. In March 2023, he was convicted and sentenced to two years imprisonment by a court in Gujarat for defaming Modi by questioning his surname6. The conviction resulted in his disqualification from Parliament.
Rahul Gandhi is widely seen as a potential prime ministerial candidate of the opposition alliance if they manage to defeat BJP in the next general elections. However, he has not declared his intention to lead the alliance or to become the Congress president again.
He is known for his charisma, simplicity and compassion among his supporters and followers. He is also known for his love for adventure sports, meditation and reading. He is unmarried and lives with his mother and sister in New Delhi.