CAN PRIYANKA HELP CONG REGAIN ITS LOST GROUND IN UP?
We are passing through a unique time when media headlines impact the thought processes of people at all times. At this juncture, truth seems to be stuck between the many contradictory arguments we hear. If we look at Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s joining active politics in this perspective, many doubts and questions will be resolved.
There is nothing new about politics for Priyanka. She was born into a political environment. Priyanka knows well that in changing times, the way you speak and carry yourself may turn the tide in your favour. In 1999, when Arun Nehru, her close relative and one-time confidante of her father, joined the electoral battle in Raebareli on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket, it was she who had taken charge in the Congress. Rahul Gandhi had not joined active politics and for Priyanka, too, it was the first time she was addressing the masses. At that time, she had made an emotional appeal to the people of Raebareli: Will you vote for a person who stabbed my father in the back? These words proved disastrous for Arun Nehru. He came fourth in that election.
Those were tough times for the Gandhi family. P.V. Narasimha Rao, who was in power earlier in the decade, had made some subtle attempts to weaken the position that the family enjoyed. During that phase of transition, the brightest star in Indian politics, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was fast approaching the pinnacle. And, in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the influence of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati had led to the Congress shrinking in the state. The majority of the party looked up to Sonia Gandhi as the saviour. In these difficult circumstances, Priyanka changed the game in her mother’s constituency.
In the same manner, she did not hesitate in sending out a clear message to the country and the BJP by accompanying her husband Robert Vadra to the Enforcement Directorate this time around. The question that will now be asked is that whether as a Congress general secretary, Priyanka will be able to revive that magic?
The answer to this is not clear. The Congress faces a coalition of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the state. The SP was a prominent part of United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II. This new alliance has influence across the state. The BJP, too, has not only formed a majority government in Uttar Pradesh, but has also strengthened its organization. In such a situation, it’s very difficult for the Congress to carve out a