CAN PRIYANKA HELP CONG RE­GAIN ITS LOST GROUND IN UP?

Mint ST - - VIEWS -

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

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