Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the only hope of the Gandhi family to take the legacy forward, is trying to prove her mettle in Uttar Pradesh, the biggest state in the country in terms of population as well as representation in Lok Sabha. For any party that wants to succeed at the national scale in India, Uttar Pradesh is the most crucial state.
Thus, one can argue that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra chose a tough assignment given the fact that Congress has witnessed a significant decline in Uttar Pradesh in the last three decades. However, she has not been able to prove herself given the fact that Congress performed miserably in the state of Uttar Pradesh in the last general election, where the party fought under her leadership.
In fact, despite her repeated campaigns against Smriti Irani, Rahul Gandhi lost the Amethi seat to the firebrand BJP leader. Now she is trying to prove herself in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly election.
Congress is searching for alliances in Uttar Pradesh. On the question of forging alliances, Priyanka Vadra said, “I do not rule out (alliance). We are absolutely not closed-minded. We are having an open mind.”
“Our aim is to defeat the BJP,” she said, adding that other political parties should also be “open-minded”.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra wants to win Uttar Pradesh for the party in 2022 at any cost because it would automatically transfer the leadership of Congress from Rahul Gandhi to her. So in a way, the Uttar Pradesh election has become a fight between Priyanka and Rahul.
But the chances of her success are very low. Despite her repeated calls, even smaller parties like Suheldev Janata Party have not approached Congress for an alliance. All the regional parties are aware that the only outcome of allying with Congress is defeat.
The two of the largest communities in Uttar Pradesh are Scheduled Castes and Muslims and Priyanka is “tutoring” one big leader from each community to bring the Muslim and Scheduled Caste votes back into the Congress’ fold.
The chosen leader for the Muslim community is Kafeel Khan, the doctor who came to light in the BRD Medical College case where more than 50 children died due to Japanese encephalitis.
In the last few months, Priyanka has used Khan to target the Muslim vote bank which has slipped to regional parties in the last few decades. Muslims have started voting for regional parties in most of the states- AIUDF in Assam, TMC in West Bengal, JD(U) and RJD in Bihar, SP and BSP in Uttar Pradesh, AIMIM in Telangana, IUML in Kerala, and so on- given the higher chances these parties have to defeat BJP.
Priyanka Vadra came out in open support of Kafeel Khan to show that Congress remains the only party that cares for the Muslims of the country. In fact, she provided assistance to Khan’s family to move to Rajasthan from Uttar Pradesh, as the state has a Congress government. Khan himself said that his family would feel safe in the state as it has a Congress government.
On the other hand, Priyanka’s bet for Scheduled Caste is Chandrashekhar Azad, who has not yet joined the Congress party but might join a few months before the UP elections. Congress has a history of giving space to fringe elements. In Gujarat, the party accommodates the radical Dalit activist Jignesh Mewani and also Hardik Patel. Given the fact fringe elements like Mewani found space in Congress in Gujarat, it would not be a surprise if Chandrashekhar Azad is instituted in the Congress fold in the state with the largest concentration of Dalit population.
However, her efforts so far have not wielded any results because Congress is nowhere in the fight in UP assembly elections. The results of the 2022 assembly election would seal the fate of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra but Rahul Gandhi would be happy about this because he would no longer have the competition from his sister.