Ending all speculations, Priyanka Gandhi has finally begun her political innings. The latest entrant into politics from the Gandhi family has proved her popularity by drawing massive crowd in her maiden road show the other day in Lucknow. Her acceptance within the party can be judged by the fact that Nehru Bhavan, the party headquarter in Uttar Pradesh is now full with activity, a scene which has not been witnessed in more than two decades. Many have termed Priyanka’s official entry to politics as a ‘master stroke’ by her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Buoyed by Priyanka’s foray in politics, Congressmen are dreaming to regain lost relevance in national politics, while opponents are gaging the power of so called ‘Priyanka effect.’
Whether it is a ‘master stroke’ by Rahul Gandhi or not, only time can tell. But to many the new Congress president could have played his ‘Priyanka card’ in a more effective manner. It is not that Priyanka was away from politics. As a matter of fact, every crucial decision taken by Congress during the stewardship of Sonia Gandhi or Rahul definitely carried a Priyanka stamp. Priyanka was very active behind the scenes, she held meetings with senior leaders of the party and had her say in deciding the party’s chief ministerial candidates. Priyanka even managed to enthral the crowd during the coronation ceremony of her brother as Congress president in Delhi’s Indraprastha Stadium. She was there both before and after the function to enthuse and thank the party workers to make the AICC session successful. So Priyanka in no way is an outsider to politics.
Then why did she remain behind the scenes for so long? No matter what the family claimed, the fact remains that fear of permanent oblivion in UP, the state which has maximum number of seats in Lok Sabha, virtually forced the Gandhis to make changes in its strategy as BSP-SP alliance was in no mood to offer more than two parliamentary seats to Congress to contest. Surely, Priyanka’s entry has upset the applecart of Mayawati-Akhilesh duo to appear as a major contender for Delhi throne after the general elections. But at the same time, one should not forget the fact that if Priyanka can re-attract minorities and Dalits towards the Congress, it will be advantage BJP. Though an effort is being made for a compromise between Congress and BSP-SP combine, chances are slim that the move will be a success as Rahul Gandhi has already stated that the party is not only working towards the forthcoming general elections, but also the next Assembly elections in the state in 2022.
Moreover, by confining Priyanka only to UP, Rahul has made another mistake. The Congress president should have highlighted his sister not only in the state of up but a star campaigner throughout the country and use Priyanka’s mass appeal to garner votes from all the states. But by throwing her in UP politics, where caste equations play a major role in deciding the outcome of poll, Rahul has virtually limited the ‘Priyanka effect.’ Rahul’s move will definitely pose a bigger challenge for his political opponents, but does not guarantee enough seats for the party to regain power at the Centre.
All in all, the move to induct Priyanka in its armoury can be termed as a political gamble by a desperate Congress. If it meets success, Rahul will certainly be described as ‘Bazigar.’ Otherwise, once again we will hear the slogan ‘Priyanka lao, Congress Bachao.’