Congress protest
Congress leaders Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi at the Satyagraha for Unity in New Delhi | Photo | Suraj Bisht
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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been everywhere these last few weeks – meeting families of those injured in protests against the new citizenship law in Muzaffarnagar and Meerut, expressing solidarity with students of the Banaras Hindu University, and showing up at the AIIMS to meet those injured in JNU’s infamous mob attack.

The sudden spurt in her visibility comes at a time when Priyanka Gandhi is just about to complete a year in active politics – a year in which she has established her style of politics as being largely episodic, entitled, and devoid of any real accountability. Incidentally, not unlike her brother and former Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

At a time when India is witnessing massive unrest against the Narendra Modi government and when the opposition should be seen as seizing the moment, Priyanka Gandhi is doing the right thing by being visible, unlike her brother who is predictably missing in action. And yet, even these interventions seem more a reflection of the kind of politics she has dabbled in so far, and not an effort to lay the foundation of a sustained brand of politics.

Priyanka’s entry in January 2019 – the suddenness, the timing and her role took many by surprise – was meant to ease matters for a rudderless and sinking Congress. She was called Congress’ ‘Brahmastra’. In the year since, however, her political presence may have only added to the Congress’ liabilities.

Much like her brother, 47-year-old Priyanka Gandhi chooses to waltz into issues and situations as per whim, with little coherence or perceptible dedication. As a result, the lack of sincerity and political street-smartness has become glaring.


Also read: Prashant Kishor thanks Congress, Rahul and Priyanka for anti-CAA resolution, says no CAA in Bihar


An erratic leader

In the last couple of weeks, Priyanka was seen at several places, except in Kota, Rajasthan, where 110 children died in the government-run JK Lon Hospital in a month, in a state ruled by the Congress.

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This was Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s moment to seize, to visit Kota and make a statement that the politician in her is more interested in the cause than games of political one-upmanship. Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and former CM Mayawati’s attacks on her over this made political sense and put her in a spot.

But Priyanka as a politician has been erratic and impulsive throughout. She came into the scene suddenly, even though her entry had been a matter of speculation for years. She chose an odd role – general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh – when she really had no credential or past record that would make her eligible to lead the party in a region as difficult and as crucial as east UP.

All her interventions seem episodic – be it visiting Uttar Pradesh once in a while or speaking up on selective issues. Her political outreach has been as inexplicable. For instance, her meeting Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad, while he was in the hospital ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election, was a bid to make a public statement, but it ended up rebuffing the Congress.

Looking back, there is no single thread, no one cohesive thought and no clear brand of politics that could define Priyanka in the past year. What she stuck to can be described as sporadic bursts of ‘I stand with you’, much like her brother – besides, of course, Twitter.


Also read: Struggling in lost bastion Delhi, Congress pins comeback hopes on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra


Internal mess in Congress

Priyanka, who so far had played a backroom, behind-the-scenes role in the Congress, has only added to the confusion and mess within the party with her foray into active politics. Neither of the Gandhi siblings is now the party president, and in that sense, both are at par. In Rahul’s absence during the crucial phase of anti-CAA protests, it was Priyanka who took charge.

Besides Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the Congress now has two power centres in Rahul and Priyanka. Thus, the old guard versus the new guard battle is now old guard versus two kinds of new guards.

Congress insiders say in private that these parallel structures are at times in subtle conflict with each other, adding to the confusing and messy dynamics of the party.

It isn’t just party leaders or workers who would be confused. Even for the voter, this ‘who is the face, who is the future’ question is bound to be confounding, one that could ultimately impact their voting choice.


Also read: The Congress strategy on NPR-NRC-CAA has been neither here nor there


No track record

When Priyanka Gandhi entered active politics in January 2019, she had no past record to speak of. She had been a hands-on backroom manager for Rae Bareli and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh – both family bastions. The results, however, haven’t been the most encouraging.

In the 2017 Uttar Pradesh election, the Congress won just two of the 10 assembly seats in the Amethi and Rae Bareli Lok Sabha constituencies. Not just that, Rahul’s own grip over Amethi has been slipping. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, which Priyanka very closely monitored, his victory margin saw a massive dip, finally losing it in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, in which the Congress managed to win just one seat in Uttar Pradesh.

What has stood out most in Priyanka’s political journey is how, unlike most others in her family who joined politics, she hasn’t fought an election yet. Thus, while her brother Rahul Gandhi has at least electoral wins in his kitty, Priyanka does not even have that. What she does have to her advantage is being more articulate and charismatic in demeanour than Rahul Gandhi. Both, however, have a similar disposition towards the Congress – they own the party and can do as they please, when they please, how they please.

Priyanka Gandhi bears an uncanny resemblance to her grandmother and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. But considering that a large number of the electorate constitutes those born after 1984, the ‘Indira Gandhi’ resonance is likely to have little impact.

There was always a ‘bring Priyanka’ cry among Congress workers each time the party did poorly electorally. But with her presence marking no visible improvement in the Congress in the last one year, the party may well have exhausted what it always thought was its ‘trump card’.

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34 Comments Share Your Views

34 COMMENTS

  1. Congress is the Grand Old Party of the Country with a long record of political service to the Nation.Great congress leaders like Nehruji,
    Lal Bahadur Sastri, Indira Gandhi PV Narasihma Rao ,Rajiv Gandhi and Manmohan singh and Sonia Team have all devoted their full life
    in the service of the Nation. The family had sacrificed the lives of their dear ones in the cause of serving the Nation, Whatever may be
    the criticism today, looking back they had given the country a government and continuity which now the Modi Government is able to
    work on.
    The change of guards is due to the awakening and literacy and the evolutionary Public demand for a meaningful life and the inherent
    democratic power safeguarded over the years, The victory is the victory of the people and they can change any government ,if they so decide.,
    The congress has lot of strengths , and the fight back skills of the party cannot be underestimated,Younger leaders will shine ,when good
    times don on them .People will choose their leader they like whether that is Charismatic Priyanka Or Rahul, the politiclal Intern. W e have to wait and see.

  2. Fact that this journalist wrote an article denouncing a person who has been in active politics for a year and has been nothing but compassionate and unequivocal In her support for poor .. shows how important she is.
    Journalist like these come and go like seasons .. personna like PGV stay..
    Give her time.. judge her in 2022 electorally.. till then grow balls to ask Modi/Shah the tough questions

  3. You are right. In current scenario common men sees Gandhis as biggest obstacle in India’s progress. That’s why Gandhis bait “NYAY ” failed measurably. They don’t know anything about our culture, religion, traditions etc and still want to rule us. By questioning surgical strikes, rediculing army chief, insulting our hestoric personalities, they are making Modi’s road to next election very easy.

    • who are our insulted “hestoric” personalities? you mean your hero Godse that the BJP spokesman on India Today confessed to admiring?

  4. There was no any truth or reality on this article instead this article helping the BJP and it’s unconstitutional reforms.

  5. The country certainly needs a credible Opposition but let us not fool ourselves into believing that the clueless Congress will provide one. The Gandhi family looks more and more like the last of the Mughal Emperors who having lost the empire were happy wallowing in nostalgia, in company of loyal courtiers in old Shahjahanabad. Today Congress is full of armchair politicians sitting in Lutyens Delhi, hanging on to old shibboleths of pink socialism. They neither have the zeal nor the grass root organisation to lead a mass movement – all that the entitled scions of Gandhi family can do is flit from one place to other for photo ops and tweet at the camera. The party has no coherent vision, ideology or even a tactical plan let alone having a strategy to revive their fortunes. It isn’t that the present BJP dispensation in power hasn’t faltered – the economy is spiralling downward, agrarian distress is crying for relief, millions of youth are facing a bleak and uncertain future, the social fabric of the country is being torn apart – yet Congress is nowhere to be seen, grabbing the opportunity to put the government on the mat? Luckily, it seems the people of the country and particularly the youth, have realised where India is headed and thus taken to streets to protest which is giving Modi-Shah a severe headache. As long as the inept triumvirate helms the Congress party BJP will be assured of ruling or misruling this country for years to come.

    • I am no congress fan but the comparison with the last of the Mughals tempts me to ask if we may expect a Bahadur Shah Zafar emmerge? and if yes, will the end-result be the same? 100 years of opression and revolt? or shall we manage to nip the evil in the bud this time?

  6. So long as Congress is headed by members of the Gandhi family,GOP cannot provide an alternative to Modi and instead would become an obstacle in opposition unity. Congress headed by Rahul or Priyanka assures third term for Modi in 2024.

    • Totally agree. One thing is sure that Modi has been successful in ensuring that the electorate (rural and urban) do not look at Gandhis – all three maa, beta and beti – with rose tinted glasses. It is neither Modi’s foreign policy, nor his radical decisions that are a barrier to building a robust democracy, but ONLY AND ONLY the cabal and the section of so called ‘liberal’ society that cannot digest the idea that Gandhis are a roadblock to a democratised, rejuvenated and potent opposition party. Today I cannot see any difference between Rahul, Akhilesh, Tejasvi, Udhav etc. These good for nothing bunch born with a silver spoon in their mouths are just having a good time, and enjoying perks they don’t deserve. The Mamtas and the Mayawatis of India are better performers by miles.

    • Do not rank the word Brahmastra at such a low level IQ level of Priyanka. At least have some respect for Brahmastra. It’s just the face matching with her grandmother but her brain has imported Italian genes. We know it. We cannot be wrong with both children. Can we?

  7. You must stop your mouth .print is the slave of modi and bjp. You dont do good journalism .priyanka gandhi is the only opposition leader fighting for the rights of the people .she has been in politics for only one year while her brother is in politics for 15 years. In 1 year itself she is grabbing media attention continuously with her speaking skills and charismatic personality. She is the only one which can revive the congress party like her grandmother indira gandhi. She is the only one which can change the congress stand from hard secularism to the pluralism of the indira gandhi’s times in which she openly advocated for india’s cultural identity ,respecting hindu sentiments and hindu nationality of india and her rituals. Priyanka gandhi is the only one who can show true meaning of hinduism to the world

    • That begs the question. Why was she not chosen over her brother ? In good time, allowing her to forge a distinct political trajectory.

    • “Priyanka gandhi is the only one who can show true meaning of hinduism to the world” – ha, ha. Are you a serious reader or are you paid by Congress IT Cell? What are the terms of payment? – More content, and more idiotic comment gets more pay and also employee of the month award. Is it? Tell us no, pleaseeee!!!

      • congress has no money to pay IT cell guys who waste time writing comments here – but RR, you seem to know a lot about how that works. Toh woh kaam kiye ho kya? for the only party rich enough to pay enough? nice to know about the ” employee of the month award”, cool!!

        • Ya, agree they have no money as the family has gulped down the loot (Bangkok trips!!!). And you seem to be a chamcha of Sonia’s secretary to know the inside information. Must be on family’s dole.

  8. My views about Ms Priyanka Gandhi have always been positive. A sensible woman, well brought up, emotional intelligence, an ability to connect with people. Something changed when she led a road show – perhaps in Lucknow. Her children, suitably dressed in khadi, were in the truck with her, Jyotiradiya Scindia, her co equal as a General Secretary in charge of UP, following in the next. That sent out an unmistakable message. For the next fifty years, at least, the Windsors remain in charge of the Firm. Who you are, however talented or charismatic, there is a glass ceiling in the Congress that can never be shattered. Even if someone harmless is nominated to be PM for a decade. That hurts a meritocratic India. All the more when people see the caliber of RG. The problems of the Congress cannot be solved by the Gandhi family. In fact, they add to them.

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