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Published On: Mon, Feb 11th, 2019

PM Narendra Modi indulging in ‘low level’ politics says Priyanka

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priyanka -road showLUCKNOW/ NEW DELHI : Priyanka Gandhi Vadra drew big crowds in Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow on Monday as she launched her campaign for the national election with a roadshow two weeks after her debut in politics. Priyanka Gandhi, along with her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi and fellow UP in-charge Jyotiraditya Scindia waved at hundreds of supporters from the top of a modified truck that was decorated in party colours.
As low-hanging electricity wires in the congested city forced the Gandhi siblings to switch to an SUV, they sat cross-legged on its roof and resumed their journey. They also stopped for hot tea and little chats on the way; near a decades-old cinema theatre Congress workers surrounded their car. 47-year-old Priyanka, no stranger to roadshows with her brother, is campaigning for the first time outside the Gandhi family constituencies of Amethi and Raebareli. For the first time in decades, the party managed to generate a buzz in UP, that too in its capital, which has voted the BJP in every election since 1991.
The Congress hopes Priyanka’s entry into politics will improve its chances in Uttar Pradesh, the state which has the highest number of seats in parliament and which the BJP swept in the 2014 national election, winning 73 of 80 seats. Her older brother announced her political debut as the party’s general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh two weeks ago. Jyotiraditya Scindia will be in charge of the other half of the state.

“…I hope that we can all come together to bring about a new kind of politics. A kind of politics in which all of you will be stakeholders,” Priyanka said in an audio message through the party’s Shakti App on Sunday. As she campaigned in UP, her husband Robert Vadra travelled with his mother Maureen Vadra to Jaipur for questioning by the Enforcement Directorate tomorrow in a money laundering case. Last week, Priyanka, taking her first big stand after joining politics, expressed support for her husband. Today, Robert Vadra posted his wishes on social media, saying “we hand her over to the people of India. Please keep her safe.”
“Priyanka and Scindia-ji will work for the Lok Sabha election but their mission goes beyond that to the assembly polls. We will not relent until we establish a Congress government in UP,” said Rahul Gandhi in course of the roadshow, stressing that his party was in UP for the long-haul. He threw in his oft-repeated “Chowkidar chor hai”, targeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on corruption. The chant, picked up by the workers, followed them for much of the journey.
There is nothing new about politics for Priyanka. She was born into a political environment. Priyanka knows well that in changing times, the way you speak and carry yourself may turn the tide in your favour. In 1999, when Arun Nehru, her close relative and one-time confidante of her father, joined the electoral battle in Raebareli on a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket, it was she who had taken charge in the Congress. Rahul Gandhi had not joined active politics and for Priyanka, too, it was the first time she was addressing the masses. At that time, she had made an emotional appeal to the people of Raebareli: Will you vote for a person who stabbed my brother father in the back? These words proved disastrous for Arun Nehru. He came fourth in that election.
Those were tough times for the Gandhi family. P.V. Narasimha Rao, who was in power earlier in the decade, had made some subtle attempts to weaken the position that the family enjoyed. During that phase of transition, the brightest star in Indian politics, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was fast approaching the pinnacle. And, in Uttar Pradesh (UP), the influence of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati had led to the Congress shrinking in the state. The majority of the party looked up to Sonia Gandhi as the saviour. In these difficult circumstances, Priyanka changed the game in her mother’s constituency.
In the same manner, she did not hesitate in sending out a clear message to the country and the BJP by accompanying her husband Robert Vadra to the Enforcement Directorate this time around. The question that will now be asked is that whether as a Congress general secretary, Priyanka will be able to revive that magic? The answer to this is not clear. The Congress faces a coalition of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the state. The SP was a prominent part of United Progressive Alliance (UPA)-II. This new alliance has influence across the state. The BJP, too, has not only formed a majority government in Uttar Pradesh, but has also strengthened its organization. In such a situation, it’s very difficult for the Congress to carve out a niche for itself.
Moreover, the Congress’s organization in the state is thin on the ground. It has been almost three decades since the party was in power in UP. Millions of voters are now used to a political environment without the Congress. The party lacks young workers on the ground to influence voters. Senior Congress activists and workers have a limited circle of influence. Not only this, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself is there as the main rival. He is the member of Parliament from Varanasi. He is firing on all cylinders to ensure another shot at power. True, the BJP doesn’t enjoy as much popularity as it did in 2014, but Modi has succeeded in salvaging his reputation by presenting an attractive interim budget and offering reservations for the poor among the upper castes.
Not only this, the BJP also has Amit Shah as its president whose organizational capabilities are unquestionable. Shah has been visiting booth workers across different parts of the state even before Priyanka entered the arena. Modi addresses the people directly, whereas Shah consolidates booths by mobilizing party workers. It’s clear that Priyanka has to grapple with various issues. The prospects look difficult, but politics is a game of possibilities. As I have said before, personalities are becoming the face of ideologies in these difficult times. Priyanka is no exception and the party has appointed Jyotiraditya Scindia as in-charge of western UP to help her. Scindia is an articulate leader with an impressive personality.

The Congress is going to address the country’s largest state on the strength of these two faces. It’s important to note that in Bihar, the party did not have any such impressive personality. Despite this, the Congress organized a massive rally in the state on 3 February. The rally was considered the biggest the party has held in 28 years.After the victory in three assembly elections in December, the Congress has definitely been re-energized. But it will have to really work hard to regain lost ground in the Hindi belt. In this sense, this week will prove to be decisive. (With Agency Inputs ).




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