On the face of it, the induction of Priyanka Gandhi into the Congress should really not make any difference. This generation is not into the Gandhi dynasty concept with that Pavlovian response perceived in the older generation. Also, the waters are muddied by her husband Robert Vadra's allegedly dubious deals and now probably ready to be further stirred by the ho-hum fresh references to the Bofors deal.
But since it is the last card in the Congress hand it might as well be played. There is nothing to lose. And if you want to try and make a game of it might as well try not to blink and bluff instead.
So what could this last round achieve? For one, Priyanka's uncanny resemblance to Indira Gandhi will revive memories. Even though it sounds bizarre, the striking resemblance could act as a magnetic pole to attract the Congress diehards who would dredge for a resurrection of the old days. Stranger things have happened.
Again, her one advantage is that she is a bit of a mystery and therefore intriguing. Having kept her head down and maintained her dignity through the rough patches she could also become a rallying figure for the burgeoning women’s movement in the nation. This female awareness is not restricted to party lines and is beginning to have the feel of an international movement even if it is currently inspired by an American President’s conduct.
Certainly, she will be attacked for her lack of experience. In the present world with Donald Trump making a corkscrew out of that premise and her own father having been set to romp home a second time despite having been anointed Prime Minister haphazardly and emotionally from his position as a pilot in Indian Airlines this accusation of amateurism would not carry much weight. Especially when you witness the calibre of the stalwarts in the various parties and the paddle pool depth of tier thoughts.
To her great advantage is her age, her appeal as a modern young woman and the rapport she can have with the under forties as she harnesses the raw power of the new populism surge in the world, India being no exception.
Perhaps the best way to diminish her would be to ignore her but that will never happen. Between media and the BJP it was possible to keep alive her brother’s assertion as a political entity and while he may have been deservedly or unfairly made captive of his own caricatured image she will be a more formidable opponent. The media will find her irresistible even as they fling clods of mud on her husband. It will be all too colourful and exciting in a relatively drab political firmament and will lead to reams of publicity as she is decried, critiqued and praised.
The BJP frontline, too, will not be able to rise above it and will contribute their opinions with abandon thereby making her a viable entity and a challenge to them. Indian politicians have not yet learnt the art of ignoring their opposition.
From the Congress point of view absolutely nothing to lose seeing the arsenal is empty. Bring her on.
Updated Date: Jan 27, 2017 13:14:37 IST