With Rahul Gandhi hurriedly leading the party to insignificance, the appointment of Priyanka Vadra was being viewed as a ray of hope to revive the grand old party’s fortunes in the Lok Sabha elections. Her appointment as the general secretary of UP East was amidst much fanfare, and she had even been referred to as the “Congress Brahmastra against PM Modi”. However, neither has she achieved anything of significance on the alliance front nor is she contesting from any seat. After the utter failure of the “Brahmastra”, the party has no choice but to rely on Manmohan Singh for its campaigning, who happens to be the most taciturn Prime Minister the nation has had the misfortune to have.
Priyanka Vadra, even though had a lot to deal with in her home, considering the fact that her husband Robert Vadra is undergoing charges for money laundering; put her dynasty first when she decided to join the party. Her appointment was being envisaged by the party to help achieve wonders in the most politically crucial state of the country. Unfortunately, her introduction didn’t reap the expected benefits when Congress was kept out of the exclusive Mahagathbandhan. Thus showing that even though she was clearly the most preferred in the Gandhi clan; her popularity outside the party remained substandard at best. Keeping this in mind, the grand old party decided not to field her from Varanasi, which was being considered. Congress realised her fabled charms were nothing in comparison to PM Modi’s outreach in Varanasi and wanted to save the sole significant Gandhi from a humiliating defeat; which would have put a premature end to her budding political career. Hence, she hasn’t been fielded from any constituency and her work remains limited to sweet talking the people of Amethi and Rae Bareli, the Congress family bastions and more importantly, the last two remaining Congress seats in UP. It is due to the enticement of Priyanka Vadra that the family bastions have remained thus.
Now, with the stardom of Priyanka Vadra fizzled out, Congress doesn’t have many alternatives. Though the party boasted many star campaigners in the past, they are irrelevant today. Their once upon a time, star campaigner Jairam Ramesh has been accused of a variety of issues such as being anti-industry when he was UPA’s environmental minister along with having alleged Maoist links supporting Bhima Koregaon accused Mahesh Raut. Another longtime loyalist, P. Chidambaram is deeply involved in the Aircel-Maxis scam and has been busy protecting himself and his family from the law enforcement agencies. Moreover, in a circumstance where he has been threatening to quit the party over the candidature of his son, Karthi, campaigning is a distant dream. Another name that cannot be considered is that of Mani Shanker Aiyer. From public brawls to abusive insults to belittling colleges; he has passed a lot of controversial remarks. Being the star campaigner of Congress in 2014, he made such defaming remarks that his comments were disowned by the party and he had to be suspended. Appointing campaigners such as Salman Khurshid is of no use to the Congress, as they go and pass statements such as “I am a part of Congress. So, let me accept that we have the blood of Muslims on our hands.” The statement may no doubt be true but does not heed well with Congress campaigning.
Other senior leaders have left the party or refused to contest elections including, Sharmistha Mukherjee, Ajay Maken, Asha Patel, KC Deo, Jogesh Singh, Naba Kishore Das and Kunvarji Bavaliya; among others.
With the entire load on the mother-son duo, they have once again called upon the man who has been the third tier in their leadership since the past 15 years. Rahul Gandhi has a lot on his hands as he is busy saving practicing vote bank politics, in order to save at least one of his seats. In search of a loquacious leader who can pull the crowds, the party has ironically chosen Manmohan Singh, the Prime Minister whose voice many yearned to hear during his tenure, but were unsuccessful. It is pertinent to note here that the longtime Gandhi loyalist Manmohan Singh has refused to contest the elections under Rahul Gandhi’s leadership, even after the party practically begged him to.
The desperation of the party is clearly visible as Manmohan Singh is a leader known for anything but political charisma. With no other option, The Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee (DPCC) has drawn up a plan to hold a “massive” campaign rally in the capital, to be addressed by Manmohan Singh. According to a Congress functionary, “The former prime minister will be able to address the concerns of the trading community and the problems of the economy.”
Congress has till now faced a dual problem in its election campaigning, one being that of a lack of quality leaders to address the rally; the other being Rahul Gandhi’s imbecility to talk on insightful issues. Baseless criticism and condemning the current government is all that suits him because as soon as he approaches an issue of development or economy, the speech backfires. After the grand failure of Priyanka Vadra grand failure, with no one to turn to, the Gandhis have once again roped in Manmohan Singh, a voiceless leader who, in the past, has not yielded much with his presence.