Bringing the Battle to Priyanka

How will the Congress sculpt its victories at a time when people’s fascination for dynasties has eroded and democratic irreverence is the flavour of the season?
Hardnews Bureau Delhi

Earlier this week, a meeting of senior Congress leaders at Rahul Gandhi’s Tughlaq Road residence created quite a stir when Priyanka Gandhi breezed in. Her presence, though fleeting, was enough to trigger speculation on a possible announcement by the party, and what it meant for her mother and Congress President Sonia Gandhi and brother and vice President Rahul Gandhi.

However, as Congressmen desperate for a turnaround moment in their plummeting fortunes latched on to this news, the party leadership was quick to make light of her unannounced visit. The Congress spokesperson clarified that no one should see it more than a family member visiting the young Gandhi’s house. But her visit had come at a time when a section of the party’s top brass was engaged in discussing an organizational rejig, and also about the upcoming AICC session where Rahul Gandhi is expected to be anointed as party president. That is, if Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s recent endorsement of Gandhi as party president carries any merit. His proposed elevation is meant to be Congress party’s response to the growing demand that it should declare its prime ministerial candidate.

In all these changes, where does Priyanka Gandhi really fit in? While there is no doubt that the Congress party will go ahead with Rahul Gandhi as its leader in the next parliament elections – there’s hardly any time for mid-course correction or changing horses in the middle of the race – many party workers and strategists believe Priyanka should play a greater role in party affairs. For quite some time, she has confined herself to looking after the constituencies of her mother and her brother, but now Congressmen, due to the imminent crisis that stares at them, want her to step out and step up. Their belief premised on her famed connect with the people, her strong resemblance with charismatic grandmother Indira Gandhi, her articulate rhetoric, and photo-friendly demeanour. In this age of 24/7 news and social media, she is savvy enough to give good bytes and repartees. In short, Priyanka is packaged better for today’s politics then her brother.