Congress clamouring for Priyanka
The buzz in political circles is that Priyanka Gandhi may enter active politics and also contest Lok Sabha election. This appears likely because the political scenario has dramatically changed with the entry of Aam Aadmi Party, led by Arvind Kejriwal, in the political arena. Already the rising graph of Narendra Modi, BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, has posed a challenge to the Congress. Unfortunately, Rahul Gandhi has not be able to make the desired impact. One wonders if the Congress can face the twin challenge of Modi and Kejriwal under his leadership. In the circumstances, many senior leaders feel that Priyanka can be brought to the forefront of the party campaign since she has better appeal among the Congress masses.
A larger question is whether her active participation in the campaign in the coming general election would make a difference in the Congress party’s performance. She has certainly won public admiration in Rae Bareli and Amethi where she worked, even if the record of the Congress in the past elections in UP assembly and Parliament has been uneven. Her charisma, skills as an orator and personal touch also endeared her to party cadres. So she is better placed than either her brother or mother to galvanise energies of the cadres.
The advantage of Priyanka is that she has a shade of her grandmother, Indira Gandhi in political understanding and she is also a better orator. There are many who see a future in Priyanka. Unlike Sonia Gandhi, she speaks extempore, convincingly and does not give the impression of reading from a prepared text. This makes her connect with the people more easily. There is a buzz in political circles that Priyanka may replace her mother, Sonia, in the upcoming elections in Rae Bareli. With Sonia easing off from a hectic political schedule because of her health concerns, Congressmen see her as an ideal replacement for the mother and an unbeatable combination with her brother Rahul. Ever since she first entered the public eye, Priyanka has been a tantalising enigma for the Congress party. Her stark resemblance to her grandmother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi is hard to ignore. According to media reports, Priyanka may contest Lok Sabha election from Rae Bareli in place of her mother, who has decided to slow down and retire from hustle-bustle of electoral politics. Priyanka’s children are now older – her son Raihan is studying at the Door School, his grandfather’s alma mater – she appears to be keen to get involved in politics. But she has also a handicap in form of her husband, who has been under a cloud for a long-time – first with the national capital’s gossip circles and in recent months when allegations have been made regarding financial misdemeanours that led the government to go overdrive to defend him.
Priyanka doesn’t have any official position, but she is without doubt a key figure in the Congress Party’s scheme of things , given her undoubted charisma and, of course, her status as member of Nehru-Gandhi family. Whenever she has gone campaigning, she has given Congress Party’s opponents a scare.
Little is known about her brief and impromptu encounter with senior Congress leaders, who had gathered at Rahul’s residence to deliberate on tour programmes of Sonia and the party vice-president. One of the functionaries, Janardhan Dwivedi, argued that she is a member of an important political family and an active member of the Congress. Priyanka has her own opinion on political issues which she has been discussing with party leaders from time to time. These were found enough qualifications for her to engage with senior party leaders. The media spotted her taking part in an informal meeting of party bigwigs. Perhaps, she was meant to be discovered in order to reinforce the impression that all hands on deck were available when the party was preparing to fight a rearguard action after the beating it received in recent assembly elections. With not much time left for the next Lok Sabha elections, it would be a surprise if Priyanka simply sat at home.
Amidst the reports of Priyanka contesting from her mother’s seat, the Allahabad Congress Committee has passed a resolution, asking Priyanka to contest from Phulpur, Jawaharlal Nehru’s constituency. UP Congress member Abhay Awasthi reportedly said that it was a unanimous decision that Priyanka should contest from the seat once held by her great-grand father. Some Congress leaders have been quoted as saying that Priyanka had an inherent charisma in her and she reminded them of Indira Gandhi. Now it appears almost certain that Priyanka would campaign nationally for the Congress in 2014 Lok Sabha poll and not just limit her role to her family bastion in Uttar Pradesh. Priyanka has always been by the side of her mother and brother. She has been visiting Rae Bareli and Amethi regularly, overlooking organisational issues. IPA