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ET EDIT-Priyanka Will Spur Congress Cadre

January 24, 2019 06:14 AM


Priyanka Will Spur Congress Cadre
Priyanka Gandhi, known primarily as the 47-year-old daughter of Rajiv and Sonia Gandhi and sister of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, entered politics formally, on Wednesday. She is now a general secretary of Congress, with oversight on the Lok Sabha elections in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The letter announcing her entry into active politics, among the most speculated upon topics in recent times in Indian national politics, was signed by her brother. The hashtag #PriyankaGandhi is by far the top trending topic on Twitter in India — and in many countries where Indians live. But votes, not tweets, win elections. And electoral success or failure is the only test of legitimacy.

Priyanka Gandhi’s entry in politics means Congress is no longer content to be a pushover in UP, India’s most politically-significant state, with 80 of 543 Lok Sabha seats. Over a quarter-century, the Grand Old Party (GOP) has ceded ground in this state, thanks to its own sins of omission and commission, to casteand religion-based outfits. Priyanka’s entry, along with that of Jyotiraditya Scindia, another fresh face representing youthful energy, is a signal that the GOP wants the people of UP to know that Congress has fresh ideas for the state, different from poverty and conflict.

Yes, Priyanka’s entry does underline the Nehru-Gandhi family’s grip on the Congress imagination. However, the media, and the focus on Priyanka, indicates that this tendency goes beyond the Congress. The willingness of Congress to give the battle in UP its all holds a message not only for BJP, but also for Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Even if it was as far back as 2009, the Congress had won 21seats, against BSP’s 20 and SP’s 23 in the Lok Sabha. Whatever be the case this time around, Priyanka Gandhi’s coming out of the proverbial closet will, if nothing else, spur the Congress cadre onwards

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