The rise of Rahul Gandhi

Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi is India's most-talked about young politician, as much for who he is today as for who he'll be in the future.

Politics in his blood

The Amethi MP was born in a family of political heavyweights and represents the fourth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty. Mr Gandhi is the son of late prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and the grandson of Indira Gandhi and Feroze Gandhi.

Early years

His grandmother's assassination brought home tragedy. And security concerns. Rahul's early education was at the Doon School in Dehradun, but after Indira Gandhi's death, sister Priyanka and Rahul had to be home-schooled.

Going places

Rahul joined St Stephen's College in Delhi, moved to Harvard in the USA after his first year and eventually obtained an M.Phil from Trinity College, Cambridge, England.

Scarred by terror

Violent tragedy struck again. This time father Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated in Sriperumbudur, Tamil Nadu. Rahul Gandhi was just shy of his 21st birthday. The Gandhi family's security became a top concern once again.

The entrepreneur

Politics wasn't Rahul's first choice. After his M.Phil at Cambridge in 1995, he spent the next three years working at the Monitor Group management consulting firm in London. By 2002, he was an entrepreneur, running his own strategy consultancy in Mumbai.

Reluctant politician?

For many years, it was younger sister Priyanka who hogged the limelight as a natural Gandhi heir. But it was Rahul who eventually joined politics. He fought the Lok Sabha elections from his father's former constituency Amethi, and won his first election by over one lakh votes.

His discovery of India

Mr Gandhi was appointed Congress general secretary in 2007. Next year, he began a self-styled "discovery" of India. He broke bread at homes where two meals a day were a luxury, spent nights with Dalit families & famously raised the plight of Kalavati, a debt-ridden farmer's widow, in Parliament.

Reaching out

The crowd-puller that he is, Mr Gandhi's road trips are reportedly a nightmare for his security staff. He is known to frequently break his Special Protection Group cordon and mix with the people. He has climbed trains, stopped for meals at restaurants, made halts to shake hands or have a short chat.

Revival? Or flash in the pan?

Uttar Pradesh has been the Ground Zero of Mr Gandhi's strategy to revive the Congress. In the 2009 general elections, he tantalised the Congress, handing it 22 out of 80 seats, its best show in years. The Congress celebrated his coming of age as a politician.

Jolted in Bihar

Rahul Gandhi carried the UP experiment to Bihar next door. He started from the grassroots and toured the state extensively. Bihar was unimpressed and gave the Congress just 4 out of 243 assembly seats in the state elections. Down from 10 in the previous election. It was Nitish Kumar all the way.

UP a distant dream

The UP elections were Rahul's show all the way; he scripted the Congress' election strategy and toured the state tirelessly, also pulling out the party's biggest guns for the campaign. But the state handed him a humiliating defeat, picking 39-year-old Akhilesh Yadav's Samajwadi Party instead.

Calling the shots

Despite much pressure and many invites from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr Gandhi has chosen not to join the government. But his imprint on the refurbished Team Manmohan is unmistakable - in the new faces inducted and those promoted in the October 2012 reshuffle.

Daredevilry at Bhatta Parsaul

Rahul Gandhi took the Mayawati government by storm during the Bhatta Parsaul farmers' protests against land acquisition. He made a dramatic entry into the village, dodging the police by riding pillion on a farmer's motorbike early morning. By late night, a nervous administration arrested him.