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Published On: Wed, Jan 23rd, 2019

Priyanka Gandhi Makes Her Debut In Active Politics

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priyanka-2NEW DELHI : A daughter of India’s most famous dynasty jumped into the political arena on Wednesday, shaking up the race to lead the world’s largest democracy ahead of elections set for later in the spring. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, 47, took up a key position within the Indian National Congress, the party once led by her great-grandfather and currently headed by her elder brother, Rahul Gandhi.

The Congress Party is attempting to deny Prime Minister Narendra Modi a second term, a task which seemed impossible until several months ago. But then it defeated Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party in three state elections in December, suggesting the fight to govern India may be closer than expected.

Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into politics has been the subject of fevered speculation for years. Until now, her political forays had been largely limited to appearing at campaign rallies in constituencies held by her family members. She is a sharp and charismatic orator, bearing a distinct resemblance to her paternal grandmother, Indira Gandhi – India’s only female prime minister, who governed the country from 1966 to 1977 and again from 1980 to 1984.
Sonia Gandhi led the Congress party to two successive victories in 2004 and 2009, but the party posted its worst ever performance in the 2014 elections when Modi swept to power.  Meanwhile, The ruling BJP immediately criticized the move as the perpetuation of dynastic politics by a party in thrall to a single family. “Rahul Gandhi has failed so he needs Priyanka Gandhi, who is from his own family, as a crutch,” Sambit Patra, a BJP spokesperson, told reporters on Wednesday.
India’s oldest political party, the Congress traces its roots back to the pre-independence era. Jawaharlal Nehru, India’s first prime minister, was a Congress leader. Both his daughter, Indira Gandhi, and his grandson, Rajiv Gandhi, went on to serve as prime minister.
Within days, the party made an aggressive announcement – that it would contest all 80 seats in the state. Priyanka Gandhi was given charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, where lies Varanasi, the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s Gorakhpur. Western Uttar Pradesh has put under Jyotiraditya Scindia, close aide of Rahul Gandhi, who had a big role to play in the recently concluded elections in Madhya Pradesh.
While the BJP has sent its good wishes to Priyanka Gandhi, both opposition leaders have maintained silence.”We have no enmity against Akhilesh and Mayawati. I respect Mayawati and Akhilesh and we are willing to cooperate. Our aim is to defeat the BJP. No problem if they want to talk with us,” Mr Gandhi said today, after announcing Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry to active politics from party bastion Amethi.

The Congress move comes days after the UP leaders announced an alliance for the state that left out the Congress. The two leaders pointed out that their decision was made in view of the ground situation, which indicated that Congress could not bring much to the table. “There is not much benefit to us from allying with the Congress. We have decided that we will not tie up with a party like the Congress across the country where they can’t transfer votes to us,” said Mayawati, who is known to have been upset with Congress over when the talks for seat sharing fell through in the Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh ahead of the recent assembly elections.
In a move which has the potential to change the dynamics of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the Congress has formally inducted party president Rahul Gandhi’s sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra into the party barely three months before the polls.
The Congress’s Brahmastra?
With her entry into formal politics, Priyanka will undoubtedly play a critical role in the election campaign in the all-important state of Uttar Pradesh, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. Besides the immediate benefits of such a strategy in the Lok Sabha elections, the Congress will also be hoping that the tantalising prospect of another Gandhi – who has at times been compared to her grandmother and late prime minister Indira Gandhi– at the helm will rekindle the emotional connect of people with the Grand Old Party.
The possibility of an elected Priyanka leading the party’s charge in the Lok Sabha could give a new lease of life to the Congress in Parliament. It’s also a reminder to the party faithful that if Rahul does not deliver the goods, there is another, arguably more charismatic, Gandhi waiting in the wings.
The risks for Priyanka – and Congress
An immediate question that naturally arises is whether the Congress’s mega move is an admission that Rahul Gandhi’s charisma is not enough to take the party above that critical mass of seats that it needs to net to provide a serious challenge to the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
(With Agency Inputs ).




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