The entry of Priyanka Gandhi into active politics on January 23, 2019 as the All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary in eastern Uttar Pradesh has left the Congress workers comparing her with Indira Gandhi. Having shown no inclination towards politics in the past, apart from being one of the key advisors of Rahul Gandhi and a few appearances in Congress campaigning in Amethi and Raebareli (Rahul and Sonia Gandhi’s parliamentary constituencies respectively), Priyanka is quite new to Indian politics.
Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan added fuel to the fire by stating that Priyanka’s entry into politics shows that Rahul Gandhi can’t handle politics alone and needs his sister’s help. Enthusiastic Congress party workers, after tasting fresh victory in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Maharashtra, have even started comparing Priyanka with Goddess Durga. A poster put by Congress workers in Raebareli read that Priyanka has come forward in the avatar of Goddess Durga to kill the demon of corruption in Uttar Pradesh. Well, that’s some hype!
Narratives were also doing rounds that Priyanka was kept in the background purposefully by Sonia Gandhi who perhaps feared that her son Rahul can be obscured by his inherently charismatic sister who has a different charm. Priyanka has an intuitive understanding of the mood of the public. In the year 1999, Priyanka had shattered her uncle Arun Nehru’s (as a BJP candidate contesting against Captain Satish Sharma) political dreams. While addressing a public rally, she questioned the voters the reason behind allowing a traitor from her father’s cabinet, who had back-stabbed his own brother to enter into their area. Priyanka reportedly learned Hindi from Amitabh Bachchan’s mother, Teji Bachchan and a considerable amount of her public speaking in the Hindi language helps her to connect well with the audience.
While her position has been formalised now after many years of party workers humming the slogan “Priyanka lao, desh bachao” (bring back Priyanka and save the country), she still has to face a tough battleground in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Speculations are being made that if Sonia Gandhi does not contest elections from Raebareli in 2019, Priyanka will be asked to pitch in her mother’s place.
It is speculated that her entry can also place Congress in the position of the third pole, as eastern Uttar Pradesh contains Narendra Modi’s constituency Varanasi and Yogi Adityanath’s constituency Gorakhpur. Congress might get a chance to disrupt the direct battle between the BJP vs SP-BSP alliance.
Will Priyanka prove to be a turning point for Congress party’s electoral fortunes? It’s now in the hands of the voters.