With the Congress clan grasping for air into the abyss Congress’ electoral future seemed to be going to, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the daughter of the Nehru-Gandhi family and wife of controversial business mogul, Robert Vadra was appointed as the General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East amidst much fanfare. Right when it seemed there was a fair chance this generation of the Nehru-Gandhi clan would not produce a prime minister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has entered the fray. The party, keeping up with the sole ideology of dynastic politics envisaged this move to help achieve wonders in the most politically crucial state of the country, Uttar Pradesh.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was appointed in the hope that her entry will revive the party’s fortune in UP in terms of alliance as Congress had been vying to be a part of the Mahagathbandhan or better described as the ‘Mahamilavat’ to contest the UP elections alongside BSP and SP. Unfortunately, the introduction doesn’t reap the expected benefits. The SP-BSP alliance has left Congress 2 seats, those of Rae Bareili and Amethi, the Congress bastions, as a gesture of courtesy. The privileged daughter’s charms and fabled political acumen has failed to achieve anything of consequence for Congress in the alliance talks. Our grand old party is not getting to join in the jamboree.
Now, in the far end of election campaign, despite her utter failure in UP, Congress has elevated her. The grand old party has named her among top five of its 40 star campaigners in its communication to the Election Commission. The list includes Congress president Rahul Gandhi at the top, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and former PM Manmohan Singh in the second and third place respectively and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in either forth or in fifth position. She will now be campaigning across several states in India and won’t be just limited to UP. Priyanka has so far restricted her campaigning to UP.
The sudden elevation of Priyanka as the star campaigner shows the leadership vacuum in Congress. At its prime, Congress used to boast of some big names which are now all in the background, some on self-imposed exiles, and others on mandated ones. Their once upon a time star campaigner Jairam Ramesh has been denied a pivotal role in the 2019 campaigns. Been accused of a variety of issues such as being anti-industry when he was UPA’s environmental minister to his alleged Maoist link supporting Bhima Koregaon accused Mahesh Raut, the party fears they will not be able to attract popularity if Ramesh is given the coveted assignment. Another long time loyalist, P. Chidambaram, is nose brim in a mountain of controversies. 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. In short, the choice for star campaigner is very limited for the Congress.
Another name which used to in the list of ‘star campaigner’ cannot be considered now is that of Mani Shanker Aiyar. Talking about his controversial involvements would take up another article. 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 had to be told not to make personal attacks. The party eventually had to suspend him when he continued the same. Needless to say, the Congress in their right mind will never take the risk of appointing him as the campaigner. 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 leaders have lost faith in Rahul Gandhi’s leadership capacity. This is obvious after the loss of so many elections and declining popularity of the party. This has created the problem of lack of campaigners for Congress and Priyanka’s sudden elevation is an attempt to somewhat fill the leadership vacuum. Seemingly working in the organization of Congress, she said, “My wish is that I work for the party. I will do what my party wants me to”.
At this point of time, if one has to choose between the two siblings, Priyanka is an obvious choice. Despite the money laundering charges her husband his undergoing, thereby tainting the name ‘Vadra’, she seems to be the only remaining popular face in Congress. With his substandard leadership, Rahul Gandhi has driven the party to its lowest point in history and that is evident to the entire Congress clan. It has been understood since a long time that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has had a big role behind the curtain in the preservation of the family bastions. Now that Rahul Gandhi seems to almost lose them ahead of the 2019 elections, she is coming out to play a larger role. Having been isolated from active politics almost all her life, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is the sole ray of hope for the party.