The induction of Priyanka Gandhi into the Congress leadership is a belated but an obvious move by the party that is willing to move heaven and earth to regain power.
But the BJP's criticism of Priyanka's appointment only reflects the nervousness in the ruling party. The first criticism is on the question of yet another dynast coming to politics. But BJP will have the credibility to mount such a criticism, however valid it is, only if it estranges allies like Akali Dal, Shiva Sena, Apna Dal, which are no different from Congress as far as dynastic politics are concerned.
The NDA had and continues to have in its fold many parties that thrive on dynastic succession. The saffron party shared power with PDP in Jammu and Kashmir, and TDP in Andhra Pradesh, which have already put in place the process of political succession. The BJP's possible allies like TRS, YSR Congress, BJD are also part of the same club of dynastic politics. If the party has such a pathological aversion to dynastic politics, it cannot survive in coalition era. Will the BJP preach same lessons to its allies?
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the Congress president has opted for a "family alliance" after facing "rejection" from various parties of the proposed grand alliance.
He was rightly referring to SP and BSP keeping Congress out of the anti-BJP gathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh. In fact, Patra is right to an extent as Priyanka was appointed the general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh (East), indicating the importance the state plays in national politics. But, it is wrong to decode that these parties are averse to having a post-poll tie up with Congress. It is too simplistic to interpret Priyanka's entry as something to do with Congress' relations with allies. Whether or not the Congress finds its allies or not, the 'family alliance' is bound to stay, something that is obviously unpalatable to BJP.
Besides, BJP is also not totally immune to such a dynastic culture, though Congress is an embodiment of such a political culture. The former chief minister of Rajasthan, Vasundhara Raje Scindia, is only one such example of the children of BJP leaders in active politics. The younger BJP leaders like Pankaja Munde, Poonam Mahajan, B Yeddyurappa Raghavendra, etc are other few examples.
This is not to endorse the lack of internal democracy in Congress and its dynastic politics. It is true that on this count, BJP is far superior to Congress. But the worrying aspect is BJP imbibing such unacceptable aspects of Congress culture.
The other criticism is that the unveiling of Priyanka indicates Congress denunciation of Rahul Gandhi's leadership. This is much more bizarre when seen against the backdrop of Congress wresting power from BJP in three crucial north Indian states — Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the first year of Rahul Gandhi's party presidency.
In fact, even BJP ally Shiv Sena talks gloriously of Rahul's leadership. It is wrong to glorify a leader when a party wins or rebuke him when the party loses. There are many factors that contribute to political mandate. BJP seniors were critical of the Modi-Shah leadership when the party lost in Bihar and Delhi. But the Congress scripting victories, which are significant in view of 2019 polls, is an empirical fact that BJP also cannot rule out. Besides, Priyanka is not replacing Rahul because the current Congress leadership has failed. Priyanka will supplement Rahul rather than supplant him. Priyanka's appointment only indicates the party's intention is to leave no stone unturned.
BJP is also mounting its criticism on Priyanka using Robert Vadra, who is accused in certain suspicious property deals. Even many outside the BJP parivar also believe that Robert Vadra has several skeletons in his cupboard, especially his questionable deals with DLF. But the BJP's inaction on these allegations in the last four-and-a-half years is beyond comprehension. The party whose government fails to unravel the truth in these allegations cannot use them politically. The people of the country do not get anything from the political slugfest between BJP and Congress.
The BJP won over 70 seats in Uttar Pradesh. The formidable electoral arithmetic in SP-BSP alliance is certainly worrying the party, especially after the by-elections in Gorakhpur, Phulpur and Kairana. The revitalised Congress under Priyanka leadership has the potential to draw the upper caste vote from BJP, much to the detriment of the saffron alliance. Even the Samajwadi Party supremo Akhilesh Yadav has said that despite his "immense respect" for Congress president Rahul Gandhi, the grand old party was kept out of the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh to correct "poll arithmetic" in order to defeat the BJP.
Priyanka's entry has certainly enthused the rank and file of the Congress, that has already been in an upbeat mood after the crucial win in three Hindi states, with the BJP snatching defeat from the jaws of victory due to shrewd political maneuvering by the Congress leadership. It is irrefutable that the Modi of 2019 is not the Modi of 2014. Rahul is seen as more energetic. Priyanka would add more glamour to the Congress campaign. She is more articulated and the brand of her grandmother Indira Gandhi is her political asset. Thus, the BJP is certainly worried of the newfound symbolism in Congress with the entry of Priyanka. But, only time will tell what substance she can bring to Congress political engineering.
BJP's criticism on Priyanka's induction nowhere reflects party's frustration. But, it certainly signifies the growing unease in the BJP camp that has several reasons besides Congress gaining ground.
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Updated Date: Jan 23, 2019 21:25:41 IST