Can Priyanka Gandhi’s Entry Really Turn The Tide For The Congress?

Posted: January 25, 2019

The panacea that the Congress needs or just a tired move by a party desperate to regain its lost glories? Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry into electoral politics was ‘the big story’ of the week.

Just 12 weeks before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Priyanka Gandhi has entered active politics as the General Secretary of Congress party. It was a longstanding demand of Congress workers and functionaries to bring in Priyanka Gandhi to strengthen the party which has seen its worst downslide in the past 5-6 years. Even though Rahul Gandhi has become more mature and assertive as a politician, yet, the elevation of Priyanka Gandhi is being hailed as the panacea the Congress needs.

But is Priyanka really the trump card that Congress had saved to be brought out just before the elections? Would her entry help dent the vote bank of both rivals BJP and the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh? Would the ruling BJP also need to work out a fresh strategy for UP since it is one of the most crucial states for any political party?

The rival parties appear to be quite flustered and shaken by this clever move of Congress although their spokespersons have refused to accept it on record. But off the record the political analysts of all parties do admit, even if grudgingly, that the rise of Priyanka could be a game changer for Uttar Pradesh politics in the forthcoming elections. With her charismatic persona, she could win over certain communities who had shifted their loyalties to other parties in the past two decades and bring them back to the Congress fold.

Panacea or power struggle?

The Congress people contend that the brother-sister duo would now be force to reckon with in the coming elections but the BJP leaders hit back, rather mockingly, that Congress has been forced to induct Priyanka Gandhi because the so-called magic of Rahul Gandhi has failed miserably. This move of Congress is further disparaged that it would now be a fight between the brother and sister themselves for the top position in the party; that there would now be two centres of power within the party as many of the Congress followers prefer Priyanka over Rahul.

This makes me wonder what makes her the obvious darling of the Congress…one reason is that they see the reflections of Indira Gandhi in her. The resemblance in their physical appearance and mannerism is quite pronounced and unmistakable. She has clarity of voice and thoughts and is self-assured and assertive just like her grandmother who was not only the first female prime minister of India but also one of the most powerful political leaders of her era.

But is that enough reason and justification for her to be catapulted from an ordinary Congress member to the highly coveted position of General Secretary? She has not held any official position in the party so far, she has not fought any elections herself and she has restricted herself to campaigning for her brother and mother only which means that she has little personal accomplishment as a political leader to support her elevation. Is it only because she has Nehru-Gandhi name in her lineage and she belongs to the first family of Congress? If she didn’t have the current Congress president as her brother and past president as her mother but was an ordinary low ranking functionary, would she still have received the bounty?

Family matters…everywhere!

Even though Congress is being accused of nurturing dynasty politics, ironically Priyanka Gandhi is not the only person to have received the benefits of her bequeathed legacy. The malaise spans across all political parties. Ex-chief minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje Sindhia, ex-speaker of Lok Sabha Meira Kumar, DMK leader Karunanidhi’s daughter Kanimozhi, Lalu Yadav’s wife Rabri Devi, NCP leader Sharad Pawar’s daughter Supriya Sule, Harsimrat Kaur Badal…the list just continues with names of women who are there because of their dynastic connections. It’s well known that women who do not belong to a political family have to contend with all sorts of social pressures and personal issues before making any significant headway in politics as a career.

Then what makes these female politicians get acceptance as political heirs so easily?

It’s a known fact that many of us Indians are still carrying the colonial hangover. We are awed by money and power that people inherit by being born in a royal or political family and we look up to them for solutions of all our problems. The followers offer their unconditional support and loyalty to their leaders without even questioning if they have the requisite capabilities to lead. They tend to believe every single word uttered by their ‘leaders’ and are ready to even fight pitched battles with the followers of rival parties to protect their honor. And this servile mindset has helped establish the children of political leaders and royal families as political heavyweights even while putting baby steps in politics.

Even though the mood in the Congress is quite upbeat and even the Shiv Sena which is an alliance partner within the NDA has hailed Priyanka Gandhi’s elevation as ‘the beginning of achche din’ for Congress (it’s significant given the current state of discord between BJP and Shiv Sena and hints at the likelihood of a future alliance between Congress and Shiv Sena). Yet, it would be better if the Congress party doesn’t set much expectations by Priyanka Gandhi right now. She’s yet to go through the rigmarole of electoral politics and prove her mettle as an able politician who can truly lead the party.

The master stroke that the Congress needs is yet to be struck. 

Image credits Firstpost video

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