Wednesday, 28 September, 2022
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Sibling support, not sibling rivalry behind Priyanka Gandhi joining Rahul’s Congress

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Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi exemplify the harmony and unity in the ruling family of the Congress.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry into national politics has finally been announced with her appointment as the general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh east Wednesday. The question of the hour is: Will Priyanka be the X-factor that tilts the scales in favour of the Congress this crucial election year?

Political predictions aside, what sets Priyanka apart is the faultless equation she shares with her brother, Congress president Rahul Gandhi—it is sibling support bordering on the unusual if not superhuman that characterises their relationship, not sibling rivalry.

Indeed, one cannot recall a single careless or critical, let alone damaging comment that Priyanka may have passed against her brother. It is this remarkable trait of Priyanka that often escapes many.

Priyanka and Rahul exemplify the harmony and unity in the ruling family of the Congress.

And riding on this appeal, can the Congress’ most awaited inductee make a monumental difference to bring India’s oldest political configuration back to power?


Also read: Is Priyanka Gandhi Congress’ brahmastra for 2019 or will Vadra scandals weigh her down?


 Silent strength of the sibling

One of the most touching visuals of Priyanka and Rahul’s solidarity followed the Congress’s disastrous showing in the 2012 UP assembly elections. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav won with a landslide, his party capturing 224 of the 403 seats.

The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) came a distant second and third with 80 and 47 seats, respectively. As for the Congress, it was wiped out, managing a dismal 28.

It had been a blundering campaign for the grand old party, without a clear strategy let alone the announcement of a leader.

Rahul’s fumbling and unconvincing excuses after the defeat would have raised at least an eyebrow, if not a sigh or sneer, from even the kindest of friends or well-wishers. Instead, the one defining image that readily comes to mind is of Priyanka holding her brother’s hand in a rare personal moment before the cameras switched off. There was such non-judgmental reassurance in her gesture that no careful observer would have failed to be moved by it.


Also Read: What’s your idea of India, I asked Priyanka Gandhi. It’s complicated, she said


Surprise launch

After Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati announced their decision to contest the 2019 polls together leaving the Congress out, Rahul Gandhi had promised, even threatened, a special surprise—almost a secret weapon.

If he meant his sister, he did well. It is unlikely that either his followers or Priyanka’s fans will be disappointed. On the contrary, this would be much more than they expected.

In the days to come, when Priyanka’s role is established based on how seriously she takes up her onerous responsibilities, her entry is likely to be greeted with euphoric cheer, even exaggerated optimism.

What could be the reason behind this reception given how low-key Priyanka has been so far? She has been content, it would seem, to support her brother from behind the scenes, hardly ever speaking at political rallies or campaigning actively.

The answer is simple: Priyanka enjoys tremendous reputation among not only her family and friends circle, but also the Congress’s rank-and-file. She is known for her level-headedness, practical sense, inner stability, political acumen, and poise. She has no affectations, but is still able to hold her own with just her presence.

What is more, Priyanka commands loyalty. She is also known to have considerable tenacity and persistence, inviting comparisons with the steely determination and fearlessness of her grandmother, Indira Gandhi.

Earlier this month, Priyanka turned 47 on 12 January – incidentally, this day also marks Swami Vivekananda’s birth anniversary, who holds a personal meaning for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Modi was named “Narendra” after his hero, Narendranath, which was Vivekananda’s pre-monastic name.

In fact, when the PM launches something politically important on the spiritual icon’s birthday, its coincidence and attendant irony, if not significance, is not lost on those in the ruling BJP. This year, too, 12 January did not pass uneventfully in the BJP’s calendar; on this day, an important working committee meeting of the party was held.


Also read: By choosing Modi & Yogi’s turf, Priyanka signals she’s a dynast with a difference


The cost of delayed decisions

Despite her natural political talent, is Priyanka’s entry into national arena a few years too late?

Certainly her charisma and draw were much greater nine or ten years back. In past decade, she has remained in the background, playing second fiddle to Rahul, given him a chance to establish himself rather than unintentionally overshadowing him.

This plan seems to have worked, especially in the past two years. Rahul has indeed emerged as the undisputed leader of the Congress, also anointed president of the party just over a year back. But another reason has changed the nation’s perception about the Gandhi-Vadra family.

That is the emergence and ascent of Narendra Modi after 2014 as India’s preeminent political personality. In addition to being Prime Minister, Modi commands a stature and space in the public imagination that is vastly superior to all his putative rivals or competitors.

And so, it seems as if Priyanka’s rise as the second Gandhi in Indian politics has been all but eclipsed.

If Priyanka is truly a fighter, she will see this as an opportunity, not a drawback. What is for sure is that the contest in Uttar Pradesh, India’s largest state which commands a staggering 80 seats in the Lok Sabha, has just become not just more interesting, but hotter.

Those against dynastic politics will only criticise Priyanka’s political debut. But those reconciled to family rule in the party, not to speak of the country, will welcome it.

The author is a Professor and Director at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. His views are personal. His Twitter handle is @makrandparanspe

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9 COMMENTS

  1. //Were you dropped on your head as a child ?//

    This comment posted above as a reply proves my point.

    This well known // Were you dropped on your head as a child // quote ( done in out & out jesting tone) OFTEN occurs in PG.Wodehouse’s Novels.
    In Kolkata ( Calcutta) where Debates were very popular this quote was frequently used by those debating as their opening lines .

    @Joy who has neatly stolen it has failed to acknowledge the source. The very important Inverted Commas are ALAS missing :-((

    This nation called India which has STOLEN a quote from Upanishads ( Shathyamaeva Jayathae) ALSO has the utmoste disdain & flippant disregard for FACTS ., Truth. Little realizing ” God is in small details ; So is the Devil “.

  2. I am truly GRATEFUL to God for this article of Makarand Paranjpe.

    In TRUTH I am scared of modi -gurumurthy-etc etc ……My INSTINCTS have aaalways screamed never to trust modi rss s. gurumurthy .

    When Character is lost everything is lost. Money allegedly missing owing to P.Chidambaram etc etc relentlessly hounded by HEARTLESS gurumuthys & various factors involving MY Personal life make me state the following :-

    I WANT Only Sri.Rahul Gandhi & Priyanka as Leaders of India.

    YESS Indeed. Sri.Rahul Gandhi did GET it right ” Chowkidar Chor Hai “. bhayankar shaithan , haramzaade neechgunday beshak chowkidar chor nikla…

    Nothing to do with rafale blah balh… I never said I am into nation building sooperpowerdom…
    modi RASCAL LIAR stole my Earned money through his notebandi . Bhagavan ALONE knows what horrendous price labour ignominy I put in to EARN. Nothing free .

    And I NEVER got back anything not even a paisa from GODDAMNED modijee & his equally ROTTEN gurumurthy who is now a member of the blighted Reserve bank Of India. gurumuthy flippantly told ” go & SUE RBI..who is stopping…”.

    Appearances are hiiighly deceptive.

    Despite my adhering to all stipulated rules modi the RASCAL ( I have aaalways HATED him….much much before this heartless scoundrel TYRANT became pm hoo haaa petrified …SCARED….the day I took a look at his photo & LETHAL face on tv my INSTINCTS screamed NEVER to trust him…….

    I do NOT want to live in Fear….thus. I prefer Smt.Mamata Banerjee of Kolkata to him. I cannot explain….

    Subramanian Swamy alleged Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is ”bipolar”. That NAILED it.

    None other than Kaanchi Paramacharya(r) says :-

    ” Those labelled bipolar do NOT tell LIES. Hence are very DEAR to God…. ..they are beyond paapam & punyam…..this is their last birth….they should be left as they are….NOT tortured , subject to medication ….. it is the psychiatrists who need treatment….”.

    I THANK Sri. Makarand Paranjpe for this important article.

    I am LEAST bothered about this & that allegedly ”stolen” ….as screamed daily by modi’s bjp.

    Apropos ISLAM ……all the multitudinous Sacred Names of Lord Ssiva , MaHaVishnu , Lalitha Sahasranamam , SathaChandi Manthrams , SriRudhram could not impact a wee bit various rotten indoooo hindu scoundrels , RAPISTS , liars that ruined my life …save the much maligned Sri.Dawood Ibrahim ஸ்ரீ-ல-ஸ்ரீ Dawood Ibrahim’s NAME that alone made them tremble in fear……

    He is certainly not bad , a terrorist to be ” brought to justice “. It is just the opposite.

  3. If it has to be the clash of family values, then renunciation is celebrated more in Indian Ethos and not entitlement. While Modi’s family is still lower middle class despite him being a CM for 13 years and PM for 5 years, Sonia G is the fourth richest lady in the world according to Huffpost, with Modi’s schemes actually benefiting the poor and empowering them and with a non pliable social media, the contrast of family values will be stark on the face of the electorate.

  4. Sudhir Kumar! You saw the game through! “One only hopes that the meaning and significance of sheer timing of the display of Professor Paranjape ‘s unqualified adulation for the members of the Dynasty will not be lost on the BJP- RSS leadership!”
    Yes indeed! It is called hedging the bets. Hedging your bets is a betting strategy which involves placing bets on a different outcome to your original bet to secure a guaranteed profit regardless of the result.

  5. How Priyanka Vadra is going to defend or react her husband Robert Vadra’s malpractices for accumulating enormous amount of wealth during just 10 years of UPA rule, will be curiously seen.

  6. What is this bullshit! licking the boots of that dynasty. Who is Binaca or Priyanka to common man in India.
    She is NOTHING. Not done A THING.

  7. Professor Makarand Paranjape is, indeed, a great Indian intellectual who self- consciously showers the choicest adjectives on Shrimati Priyanka Gandhi on her appointment as the General Secretary of Congress Party!! He does not hide his unbounded enthusiasm for Priyanka Gandhi as it is more than evident as he praises her for her “ level-headedness, practical sense, inner stability, political acumen, and poise.” Professor Paranjape seems quite enamoured of Priyanka Gandhi’s persona :” She has no affectations, but is still able to hold her own with just her presence.What is more, Priyanka commands loyalty. She is also known to have considerable tenacity and persistence, inviting comparisons with the steely determination and fearlessness of her grandmother, Indira Gandhi”!! Moreover, one can’t fail to notice how Professor Makarand Paranjape unambiguously hails the magical charm of the Rahul- Priyanka combine that, according to him, may ( or will??) tilt the scales in the favour of CongressParty in the forthcoming general elections ( 2019) ! One only hopes that the meaning and significance of sheer timing of the display of Professor Paranjape ‘s unqualified adulation for the members of the Dynasty will not be lost on the BJP- RSS leadership!

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