Priyanka Gandhi Vadra made her political debut in January with a roadshow drawing thousands in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state, months before the parliamentary election due by May.
Watch: Priyanka Gandhi’s mega Lucknow roadshow; brother Rahul Gandhi by her side (ht)
What INDIA Feels
‘It’s like Indira has come back’
Big hoardings congratulating Priyanka Gandhi on behalf of district Congress leaders, some wearing sunglasses, have sprung up near the Feroze Gandhi College in Rae Bareli, the parliamentary constituency of former Congress president Sonia Gandhi. Under their gaze, teenagers with new-age haircuts go about speeding on their bikes, honking obsessively. Last week, the Congress leadership appointed Priyanka Gandhi the party in-charge for eastern Uttar Pradesh.
“People here don’t see anybody beyond the Gandhis in the general elections. Whether it’s Sonia or Priyanka, it’s a sure-shot win for the Congress,” says Sukhendra Pratap Singh.
Dheerendra Tripathi, 37, from Khajuri village, is working with a bunch of youngsters to level a volleyball court. He has been a Congress voter all his life, but his loyalty has been eroded. “Aaj bhi aankh mein aansu aa jate hain agar Congress se hat ke baat karte hain (My eyes go moist even today when I think of supporting any party other than the Congress),” he says.
Words from Priyanka Gandhi
Priyanka Gandhi delivered her debut political speech in Gujarat’s Gandhinagar on March 12. A day after which, she also expressed her thoughts on Twitter for the very first time. Both her tweets, which had a reference to Mahatma Gandhi, garnered around 30k likes and over 8k retweets in less than 11 hours.
In the simple dignity of Sabarmati, the truth lives on.
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) March 12, 2019
“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”
Mahatma Gandhi pic.twitter.com/bxh4cT3Y5O
— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) March 12, 2019
“I am saddened by what is happening in our country today. I want you all to be more aware. That is the best sign of patriotism… Your vote is your weapon. You are not supposed to harm someone with that weapon. But it will make you stronger,” she said.
Battle begin Priyanka Gandhi vs Narendra Modi
INDIA Election 2014
Beware Sir, Knock Some Intelligence Into Them…
Dear Prime Minister Modi, the least you can do is choose intelligent propagandists!
60% want to witness a Priyanka vs Modi battle in Varanasi
60% of the respondents strongly believe that Priyanka should be pitted against PM Modi from the prestigious constituency of Varanasi for Lok Sabha polls. 32% percent of the surveyed lot don’t think it’s a wise move. 8% do not have an opinion over it: ABP News-CVoter Survey pic.twitter.com/nvOnU9z0DN
— ABP News (@abpnewstv) February 8, 2019
Gandhi is no stranger to politics, though.
For the longest time, she has been working behind the scenes although her public participation was limited to Rae Bareli and Amethi, represented in parliament by her mother Sonia Gandhi and brother, respectively.
Gandhi has always been rated a more spontaneous politician than her brother—she is known to be articulate in Hindi and for her ability to connect with the masses. This ability, coupled with her striking resemblance to her grandmother, former prime minister Indira Gandhi, is what the Congress may be counting on in a predominantly rural state like UP.
While Gandhi’s formal political debut could be perceived as the Congress’s first family tightening its grip on the party—and giving a fillip to nepotism—she is expected to eventually replace her ailing mother in the party hierarchy.
NDTV Gives 4 Reasons Priyanka Gandhi’s News Is Worrying For Modi And BJP
Priyanka will be an asset for the Congress in general and Rahul in particular for four reasons:
1. There is no denying Priyanka’s solid charisma. She has long galvanized Congress workers and draws crowds who are curious about her. Her presence will draw votes for the Congress, perhaps converting those who are not enthused by Rahul.
2. Priyanka, known as a trusted ally of Rahul and his greatest counsel, will be trusted with delivering him honest feedback and advise which others may not be bold enough to.
3. Sonia is not too well and does not travel as much as she used to earlier. Now, Rahul and Priyanka can divide campaigning responsibilities and appearances. Rahul won’t have to worry about the areas he can’t visit due to a paucity of time. Those areas and constituencies can be taken care of by Priyanka. India is still mostly a rural society. Indira Gandhi was hugely popular among rural folks where she is still remembered with fondness as “Indira Amma“; she had special appeal among women. There are already posters in UP and other areas depicting Priyanka as Indira.
4. Priyanka has very smartly been given the charge of Eastern UP, where the upper castes played a very important role in the rise of BJP in 2014. It is not to be forgotten that these sections had been a great supporter of the Congress before Mandal and Ayodhya politics took centre stage. This upper caste was looking for a political platform and in 2014, it found the BJP. According to a CSDS in the survey in 2014, 72% Brahmins, 77% Rajput, 71% Vaisya and 79% other upper castes voted for the BJP, partly because of Modi. But a section of upper castes is angry with the BJP due to its stand on the SC/ST Act when the centre intervened to circumvent some of the changes ordered by the Supreme Court. The bulk of upper castes might not vote for the BSP and SP alliance but if they have an option, they can go for the Congress. This should be a cause for concern for the BJP – that the Congress could now take back some of the upper caste votes.