Who Will Save The Congress Party – Priyanka Gandhi Or Shashi Tharoor?

Posted by ED Times in Politics
April 17, 2017

Since the Congress is at its lowest ever, it needs reforms from within and a leader to show the world – a leader who is not Rahul Gandhi. Think about it: If Congress ever won the elections again (no chance in 2019 so let’s assume 2024), who would be its Prime Minister?

Recently, some of Shashi Tharoor’s fans started a petition on Change.org requesting Congress to make Tharoor its PM candidate for the 2019 elections. Tharoor, being suave and composed as he generally is, politely declined, and asked ‘Tharoorians’ to withdraw any such petition.

There’s no doubt that Tharoor will make a good leader or political reformer but the issue here is the revival of Congress. Will he be able to rebuild the Indian National Congress (INC) and win back the lost seats? I’d certainly say no.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

As much as I want Tharoor to take charge of the party, I cannot ignore the reality that he has a mass appeal limited only to the youth and the intellectual class, who do not decide the results of an election. For him to bring reform and change, he would need support from his party members too, which he lacks. He affiliates himself with the party ideology but has a mind of his own and evidently does not agree with a lot of his party’s stands.

It has been observed that to be a successful and relatable Prime Ministerial candidate, one has to be a Hindi-speaking North Indian with mass appeal among the poor and farmer class. Tharoor is from Kerala who speaks in broken Hindi, is foreign-educated and has no connection with the grassroots.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the circumstance under which his wife died. As far as the voters are concerned, criminal charges on politicians have hardly had any bearing on their voting pattern/ preferences.

A lot of MPs and MLAs sitting in the Parliament and state assemblies have criminal charges against them. Yogi Adityanath becoming CM and Modi becoming PM even after having serious criminal charges against them, validates my argument.

Now comes another leader-cum-celebrity who can save the Congress: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (let’s forget Vadra for a while).

Hindi speaking: Check.
Gandhi lineage: Check.
No controversies: Check.
Resembles Indira Gandhi: Check.

The biggest advantage Priyanka has is her looks. She resembles her grandmother Indira Gandhi. Those of you who are thinking, “So what?” do not know the power of marketing. Or perhaps the stature, image, and audacity Indira Gandhi used to have and still has. She was perhaps more influential than all other PMs put together.

She wasn’t elected just once or twice but four times as an MP. She was elected twice as an MP even after the Emergency. People gave her the status of ‘mother’. And it’s not that she never did something good for the country. She did a lot. But it is a known fact that she attempted to destroy democracy, the Constitution, the judiciary and the system. However, the Indian masses have time and again proven that the misdeeds of a politician are forgotten.

Coming back to Priyanka, she is not a politician or a leader. But she is the granddaughter of Indira Gandhi. She may or may not have good public speaking skills but as long as she drapes that saree around her and looks like her grandmother, the public will fall for her apparent authority, just like it fell for Indira’s.

Priyanka’s biggest liability is her husband Robert Vadra, the guy everyone loves to hate. Vadra made it to the news in the rule of the UPA-2 government but we are over it now. Even the media is done with each and every alleged scam/misappropriation by him. To get rid of this liability, the Congress would need to handle the media better, just like the BJP does. If it succeeds in this effort, I don’t think Vadra would be a speed-breaker in Priyanka’s travel to the throne. However, before the Congress does anything new, it needs to get one thing right. Show Rahul Gandhi the exit door.

Juxtaposing both the leaders, I can confidently say that Congress needs Priyanka for winning elections and Tharoor for delivering the expectations. So to conclude, what the Congress party requires is the face of Priyanka and the intellect of Tharoor  In simpler words, perhaps, Congress president Priyanka and Prime Minister Tharoor.

This post was originally published here.


Image source: Subhankar Chakraborty/ Hindustan Times via Getty Images,  Australia India Institute/ Flickr