Before we get to that, let’s take on board another detail that may alter our perspective on Rahul’s supposed ‘failure’. Even apart from the fact that anti-incumbency in 2014 was directed at the Congress—it had been in power for a decade before that—and the party, therefore, was at the receiving end of a desire for change, other opposition parties, less directly in the line of public ire, were also given a wide berth.
From Kashmir to Maharashtra, no party north of the Vindhyas has done much better in elections, certainly not in the Lok Sabha. Even in state assembly elections, rarely has a state been wrested from the BJP after 2013. The Congress, under Rahul, did it thrice.
For all the accusations hurled at him, of being an entitled dynast and wielding power without direct responsibility, people in the party have felt free to openly criticise him, without inviting any real consequences. Do a quick survey of the Indian political landscape and ask which other top leader of stature might stomach that kind of open dissent.