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Congress is an orphan without the Gandhis’

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At a 1999 General Election campaign, Priyanka Gandhi in an interview with the BBC had said: “I am very clear in my mind. Politics is not a strong pull, the people are. And I can do things for them without being in politics”. Nonetheless, the question of her joining formal politics would be bothersome: “I have said it a thousand times; I am not interested in joining politics…”

Looking at present scenario in Congress and to save its future, Priyanka Gandhi may have to think on above statements. So far, she continued to regularly visit her mother’s and brother’s constituencies of Rae Bareilly and Amethi respectively, where she dealt with the people directly. She is a popular figure in both the constituencies, drawing large crowds everywhere. A popular slogan in Amethi in every election has been ‘Amethi ka danka, bitiya Priyanka’ (the clarion call from Amethi is for Priyanka). She has command over the local language. She knows how to hold crowd and also very matured in her approach towards them. She is liked by many, more than their leaders in the constituencies. In the General Election 2004, she was her mother’s campaign manager and helped supervise her brother Rahul Gandhi’s campaign. In the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, 2007, while Rahul Gandhi managed the statewide campaign, she focused on the ten seats in the Amethi and Rae Bareilly, spending two weeks there trying to quell considerable infighting within the party workers over seat allocations. On the whole, the Congress party was routed in the state, managing 22 seats out of 402, and its lowest tally in decades. However, what is widely seen as a cachet for Priyanka Gandhi’s quiet organizational and vote-drawing ability, the Congress which had only two area seats (out of ten) in the 2002 assembly, now managed to wrest seven, while posting significant gains in all the seats, and this despite initial dissidence within the party.

If other than Gandhi family is given a face or leadership to lead party, many veterans may get disappointed, as there would be tug of war for the post. Only Gandhi family can bind all Congress leaders together. Anyhow, Rahul Gandhi has proven himself as a flopped leader and only Priyanka Gandhi is the hope for the survival and revival of Congress party. The party, however, is divided on the impact of Priyanka’s entry. Many are feeling that the message to the voters might go as admitting Rahul’s failure. While some are apprehensive about how the youth will see the entry of another Nehru-Gandhi family member. The family remains tight-lipped on the issue, Priyanka continues to attend internal meetings, quietly helping Rahul in planning the revival of the Congress.

When Rahul was made vice-president that creates a problem with the party’s old guards but, with the Congress in the grip of an existential crisis, conventional wisdom has been given the go-by with radical solutions seen as the answer. Sonia Gandhi wanted to handover the party to Rahul and bow out. She is continuing because crisis erupts after crisis. In politics, you always need to have a window open. The problem with Rahul Gandhi is that once he dislikes someone, it’s palpable. Even in 1984, Rajiv Gandhi cut many veterans ticket but, then they had 402 seats but now Congress has only 44. However, Rahul has not changed. Priyanka Gandhi, who is fiercely political and has a huge grasp of party affairs, will go after victories and not vague experiments in inner party democracy like her brother.

When Congress was facing same kind of leadership crises, Sonia Gandhi agreed to enter active politics and helped party, since then she has served as the Chairperson of UPA and she became the longest serving president in the 125-year history of the Congress party. Then, Rahul Gandhi made entry into active politics but he was not accepted by many leaders. He failed to prove his leadership and opposition could largely manage to tarnish his image as politician. Priyanka is blessed with the same genetic personality, as her Grandmother Indira Gandhi. Anyone who has seen the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and then turned to look at her granddaughter, Priyanka Gandhi, is bound to be impressed with the striking resemblance between them. And, the similarity does not end at how Priyanka’s hair is like Indira’s or how her sharp nose is just like her grandmother’s. Their aura makes the air crackle and no one can remain unaffected. Those leaders who have worked with Indiraji and those who attended her public meetings – they see Indira’s unfailing charisma in Priyanka. The way Indira dealt with people, be it in office or on the roads, using her gut to connect with them, has its own charm.

Priyanka is strident, walks tall, with large steps, is graceful and extremely engaging. She is absolutely adored. Her behaviour and demeanour is perfect and goes down well with the common man. When she speaks, it’s from the heart and she comes across as sincere and honest. Her communication is not just skillful, it is natural. The language she uses is simple and effective. She is a loving mother, wife, sister and daughter which add to her charm. Priyanka’s entry in Congress’s active politics will prove as gasp of fresh air in this world-weary political environment that we see today. Maybe, her degree in psychology helps her to connect with people or maybe, it’s just in her genes.

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on feedback@www.afternoonvoice.com)

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