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Priyanka Gandhi, the Congress spearhead for 2024

Even though Rahul Gandhi is widely regarded as the only person, who stood virtually alone at times, against the Bharatiya Janata Party, it is his sister, Priyanka who is making an impact in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. She has been the most effective tool of the Opposition and in her counters to the Prime […]

Even though Rahul Gandhi is widely regarded as the only person, who stood virtually alone at times, against the Bharatiya Janata Party, it is his sister, Priyanka who is making an impact in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. She has been the most effective tool of the Opposition and in her counters to the Prime Minister in particular, she has managed to hold on to her own while making her point. There was a lot of talk in political circles as to how sibling rivalry had prevented Priyanka from contesting the Parliamentary polls and how there were differences within the family as to who should be viewed as the future leader of the party.
Notwithstanding all these controversies, Priyanka is perhaps the most sought-after leader of the Congress in these polls, and is drawing huge crowds. The question remains that only time would tell whether these crowds and the people who seemed to be watching her closely, shall cast their franchise in accordance with the narrative being set through her fiery speeches. It is never easy to confront a leader like Narendra Modi in the electoral field, since the Prime Minister is a past master in setting the agenda and changing the course of elections midway. But despite getting most of the time on the electronic media, he is now facing an adversary whose oratorial skills are exceptional and is carrying the fight to the camp of her opponents. There is also speculation that in the evolving political scenario, the Congress could consider fielding Priyanka against Modi from Varanasi.

This is most unlikely and if that was to happen, she would certainly emerge as the tallest leader amongst the opposition parties. Priyanka has so far declined to contest solely because she wishes to focus on the campaign and secondly does not want to begin her debut on a doubtful note. She could have easily chosen Amethi or Rae Bareilly for this purpose but after a family meeting her role was defined as that of the star campaigner. It is also a known fact that defeating the Prime Minister is virtually impossible but for some reason, if this fight was to take place, it would be certainly the mother of all battles.
The Congress would be far happier in increasing its tally this time rather than sacrificing its star campaigner in the significant and decisive confrontation with the BJP in 2024. The speculation has commenced only because in certain political quarters there is growing belief that the BJP was vulnerable and was slipping. There is no evidence of all this as yet and one would have to wait till June 4 to know what the truth is. However, so far as Priyanka is concerned, she has made her mark already. Her main limitation is that the Congress organizational network is lacking in most areas and pitted against the might of the BJP, it is nowhere.

It is another story that there is also disquiet in the Saffron brigade over the distribution of tickets and many old BJP loyalists feel that by giving the nomination to those who had come from other parties, the central leadership had perhaps made a grave mistake. There is also a talk of the RSS being neutral or at least not as enthusiastic as it was in the previous elections. This is again not supported by any concrete evidence and things would become clear in the course of time. Priyanka has always been regarded as a charismatic leader by many in her party and there is a section which feels that she and not her brother should have been leading the outfit. It is to Rahul’s credit that despite being insulted and humiliated all these years, he has been steadfast in his approach and has continued his fight against the BJP and.

His image has been transformed after his two Yatras and many view him as a possible alternative to the Prime Minister, even though the Congress leadership has made it clear repeatedly that the party was not in the race for the top position, and its main objective was to dislodge the BJP, and save the Constitution and the values which the Nation stood for. Priyanka is someone who is also regarded as the natural heir to her grandmother Indira Gandhi. A few days before she was brutally assassinated, Indira Gandhi while on a visit to Kashmir along with her grandchildren, had shared her thoughts with her political adviser, Makhan Lal Fotedar. She had told Fotedar that he should after her death, ensure that Priyanka entered the political arena. She said that she saw shades of her own personality in her and people would also see her that way. Once she arrives on the scene, people would forget her and follow her granddaughter. Fotedar had conveyed these sentiments to Rajiv Gandhi, after Indira Gandhi’s assassination to which the then Prime Minister had smiled and told him, “To Mummy Aise Kehti thi’’.

After Rajiv died tragically in 1991 in an assassination carried out by a human bomb, Fotedar had passed on this message to Sonia Gandhi. It was evident that Sonia preferred Rahul and thus this exercise ended. The unique thing about the Gandhis is that even when they disagree on issues amongst themselves, they never allow this to come out in the public domain. This is also true of the other stream of Gandhis where Feroze Varun, declined to contest on the BJP ticket from Rae Bareilly on the grounds that he would not do anything against his family and cousins. This bond is invisible but in the end matters. The 2024 polls have Rahul contesting from two places while Priyanka and Varun are sitting out. What the future holds for them is something time alone shall tell.

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