By Vijay Darda
Congress workers as well as the common man are very optimistic over the entry of Priyanka Gandhi into active politics. Everyone has pinned a great hope on her. Many people also see the reflection of Indira Gandhi in her.
Notably, she has a deep connection with the people of Amethi and Rae Bareli. People there say that Priyanka Gandhi blends with the common man so normally that sometimes even her security personnel get astounded by their familiarity.
Her spontaneity, simplicity and ability endear everyone. I have myself known her for a long time and have realised that she has vision and simplicity. She has country’s best interests in her heart and is worried about the common man’s welfare and wants to make their life happy and comfortable.
That is why she is getting an all-round welcome on her entry into active politics. In July last year, Priyanka Gandhi had personally met all the Congress leaders who were operating different sections of the party. She asked just one question to all such leaders as to what agenda they had for the next 100 days. This question is important in itself. This is the real identity of a leader that she seeks to know the attitude of her colleagues.
After these interactions with the leaders, it seemed that Priyanka Gandhi is now ready to enter active politics. Not that she was not in the field earlier. During various elections in Amethi and Rae Bareli, she has remained active behind the scene. The public service runs in her blood and she has been learning the nitty-gritty of politics fast.
There is no doubt that she is the trump card for the Congress in the current situation. The Congress was just waiting for the right time. Under Rahul Gandhi, the party has captured Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan in the recent Assembly elections. Congress hopes that in the Lok Sabha elections, Rahul Gandhi together with Priyanka will be able to script victory for the party.
Priyanka’s entry has disturbed not only the Bharatiya Janata Party but also the other political parties which were indulging in the politics of brinkmanship to marginalise the Congress. The SP and the BSP have already marginalised the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. Congress has surprised everyone by saying that it will contest all the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh.
Nevertheless, Rahul Gandhi has shown his generosity by keeping the doors of alliance open for them. Uttar Pradesh has the highest number of 80 Lok Sabha seats. The most significant thing is that the Congress president has not only appointed Priyanka Gandhi as general secretary but also entrusted her the responsibility of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, which is the most important area in terms of politics today. The constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and that of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath falls in this region.
Priyanka has accepted a big challenge. While the BJP feels Priyanka’s entry will weaken SP-BSP combine, Congress believes it will neutralise the BJP. However, the SP and the BSP believe that if Modi is the target of each and every party, the Congress should not contest all the 80 seats as it will harm everyone.
Casteism weighs heavily in UP politics. In Eastern UP, a large population of Dalits, Muslims and Brahmins had been deciding the outcome and direction of elections. When the Congress won 21 seats in Uttar Pradesh in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, 13 seats came from this region. Clearly, there are people who support Congress but over the period, they sided with the BJP, SP and BSP.
The situation became so bad that in the 2014 LS polls, Congress candidates in 20 of the 33 seats in the region lost their deposit. This clearly means that Priyanka’s task is daunting. But there is no denying the fact that Priyanka’s entry has enthused the Congress workers like never before. Now the Congress is hoping that Priyanka Gandhi’s aura will connect the disjointed sections to the party. The Congress will be able to recover the lost ground.
Despite being a national party, Congress has no existence in UP at present. Therefore, a new beginning has to be made and the Congress has done exactly that by bringing in Priyanka. However, who gains from this move remains to be seen.
The confidence of the Congress vis-a-vis 2019 Lok Sabha elections can be gauged from the fact that Rahul Gandhi has clearly said the Congress will now play on the front foot and not the back foot. Certainly, Priyanka Gandhi has the ability to play on the front foot. Rahul is already playing on the front foot with full confidence.
And of course, I would definitely like to discuss one more thing which the opposition has been hammering again and again. After Priyanka Gandhi was made general secretary, opposition parties started harping on the dynasty slogan. Right from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi to Rahul Gandhi, their ability earned them the love of this country. If there would have been any greed, had Sonia Gandhi declined the post of the Prime Minister?
Priyanka Gandhi will also sustain on her own ability. And do the opposition parties not have members of the same family active in politics? Not only India, this has been happening in the US too. The then US president John F Kennedy’s brothers Robert and Ted Kennedy were senators.
Some other members of Kennedy family were in politics too. Will two members of the Bush family becoming US president be called dynastic politics? Is the example of Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton a case of dynastic politics? Such allegations can only be described as low-level politics, nothing else!
Vijay Darda has been the chief visionary and driving force behind Lokmat, a leading multi-platform media company. He is a recipient of several prestigious awards including the Feroze Gandhi Memorial Award for excellence in journalism in 1990-91.
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