21 - 02 - 2019

Priyanka factor

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has finally and officially joined the Congress and that has electrified the party rank and file across the nation at a time when the Congress faces an existential crisis in several states.

Priyanka is no stranger to politics as she has been an active campaigner in Amethi for her mother Sonia in 2004 and later after brother Rahul stood from the constituency and Sonia from Rae Bareli, Priyanka campaigned for both during 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

 She remained in the background despite clamour from the rank and file of the Congress to join and lead the party. Priyanka has been an instant hit with youth and women because of her personality. She is popular not merely because she reminds people of her late grandmother Indira Gandhi but also because she can easily strike a rapport with people in a natural way.

She is also more charismatic among the two Gandhi siblings and a political acumen which she exhibited while campaigning and dealing with her party issues in UP. Thus her appointment as general secretary AICC in-charge of UP(East) is significant since the parliamentary constituencies of prime minister Narendra Modi(Varanasi) and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath(Gorakhpur) come under it.

Priyanka will have to take on Modi and UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath in East UP. She has a forceful and engaging presence on the campaign trails and this should certainly be a huge asset for the Congress as it seeks to remain relevant in UP.

 Priyanka will lead the charge with another youthful leader, Jyotiraditya Scindia who has been given charge of Western UP. After formation of SP-BSP alliance and keeping out Congress, Rahul has had to recalibrate the poll scenarios in some states.

Thus his last trump card- bringing in his sister Priyanka to be officially in charge of Eastern UP- has had the desired effect of boosting the morale of the party rank and file. The strategy of roping in Priyanka for UP has probably unsettled the SP-BSP and the two will perhaps do a rethink about splitting anti-BJP votes. A resurgent Congress has also caught the BJP unprepared and the latter realises that Congress could eat into its upper caste votes.

After the Congress was excluded from the grand alliance by the Samajwadi Party(SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP), even its new found ally, TDP, does not want to share seats in Andhra. So Congress may have to go it alone in the state. It will also have to fight alone in West Bengal since the Left is unwilling to become a pawn again.

 The TMC has already shut the doors on any alliance as Mamata dreams of becoming a key player. There is no doubt that Priyanka is an astute personality who has taken to politics like duck takes to water unlike her brother Rahul who has taken a long time to get a grip on politics. Priyanka appears to be on home ground and her official entry into politics has added a different dimension to politics in the biggest state of UP.

However, she will have to fight not only the might of Modi and BJP but the political slander due to probes on her husband Robert Vadra’s land deals. Whether she can deliver will matter not only for the party but also for the family which has to fight the biggest and most challenging battle ever and under very adverse situations.