Priyanka Gandhi to restore lost glory of Congress?

All of a sudden Indira Gandhi’s trusted aid and Congress leader made a statement. Indira spoke of her granddaughter Priyanka Gandhi as her virtual political heir shortly before her death, predicting that, she will shine and the next century will be hers. Looking at the Rahul Gandhi’s failure in politics, this can be a publicity gimmick by Congress man to get Priyanka in active politics. Anyway, if Priyanka enters active politics then this would be great news for Congress and she can be an asset for party to restore its lost glory. Congress veteran ML Fotedar has claimed that the former prime minister had an intuition about her death just days before she was assassinated and wanted her granddaughter Priyanka to carry forward her political legacy. Fotedar, a long-time political advisor to Indira, claimed that she saw her reflection in Priyanka and was convinced that she could be a great leader in future. No one knows why this gentleman was mum all these years and suddenly revealed the feelings of Mrs. Gandhi at this juncture? May be Congress is planning to change it leadership and future strategies.

However, during 1999 election campaign, Priyanka Gandhi said in an interview to BBC: “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 politics formally would be bothersome: “I have said it a thousand times, I am not interested in joining politics…”

Priyanka has always refused to be a part of politics, she just wants to stay connected with people and whenever party or her family needs her she is seen campaigning or participating for Congress. She can very well connect with people and also has her own mesmerising way of connecting to people. She has however continued to regularly visit her mother’s and brother’s constituencies of Rae Bareilly and Amethi where she directly interacted with the people. She is a popular figure in the constituency, 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 [to stand elections]). In the general election, 2004, she was her mother’s campaign manager and helped supervise her Brother Rahul Gandhi’s campaign. In a press meeting during these elections she said that “politics is all about serving the people and I am already doing that. I may continue doing only that for five years more. In the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, 2007, while Rahul Gandhi managed the statewide campaign, she focused on the ten seats in the Amethi Rae Bareilly region, 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, its lowest tally in decades. However, in what is widely seen as a status 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.

Congress party always had high and low but they ruled the country for maximum years and comparatively they were much better for this country. BJP and its allies succeeded in tarnishing their image by creating anger against them, but they too lost their glory in short span of ruling. BJP as political party rarely ruled this nation, most of the time they remained as an Opposition. Now at such juncture, Fotedar’s description of Indira’s wish can be another twist in future politics. He, however, regretted that Indira’s suggestion on Priyanka did not go down well with Sonia Gandhi. Somewhere his statements indicate that the old leaders of Congress are not happy with Sonia and Rahul’s leadership. Revealing the dramatic circumstances of Indira’s last days, Fotedar said she had visited Kashmir in late October 1984, drawn by its scenic beauty and an ardent desire to visit a Hindu and a Muslim shrine that the late leader reposed particular faith in. The old time Gandhi loyalist’s recollections are due to be made public soon in the form of a book ‘Chinar Leaves’ that will be released on October 30 in the Capital. Fotedar’s due to be released book also seems to support former minister Natwar Singh’s claim that family pressure rather than an “inner voice” was the reason for Sonia declining the prime minister’s post in 2004. Much later, Fotedar wrote a detailed letter to Sonia putting down Indira’s thoughts on Priyanka after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 during campaigning for the Lok Sabha election. Apparently, the contents of the letter were not well received.

In another interesting claim, Fotedar said the late Madhavrao Scindia lobbied former Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh against supporting the Congress’s claim to forming a government in 1999 after the Vajpayee government lost a confidence motion by one vote. Scindia, according to Fotedar, was miffed at the possibility of Sonia nominating Manmohan Singh as the prime minister and worked to prevent such an eventuality. Fotedar’s revelations indicate a cooling of relations between him and Sonia as he wryly recalled the late Congress leader Sitaram Kesri warning him that he will get nothing from the current Congress president.

The book also claims that Sonia was miffed at Fotedar when he told her about Indira’s will and left the room in a huff as she was taken aback with her mother-in-law’s views. This, the author says, happened when he went to meet Sonia who had sought his counsel on fielding son Rahul into politics with a ticket in Amethi. Fotedar’s about-to-be-released book documents facts about a will Indira Gandhi dictated to him two days before she died. He also writes how Indira wanted to die walking and not like her father who had suffered a lot towards the end.

Let’s see, how Congress is going to induct Priyanka into active politics to fulfil the dreams of Indira.