Priyanka Gandhi's Sonbhadra visit: Congress leader's post-poll proactivity puts senior party members to shame
Undaunted by the massive rout she faced in the Lok Sabha election, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is setting an example for senior members of the Congress
On Friday, the Congress general secretary was detained while on her way to meet the victims of a Sonbhadra land dispute that claimed 10 lives
A Congress party worker accompanying Priyanka said that the Uttar Pradesh Police detained the AICC general secretary near Narayanpur Police station in Mirzapur, while she was on her way to Sonbhadra
Her visit is not likely to trigger a churn in the politics of the state, but is most likely to offer hope to the dispirited party members on the lower rungs who harbour genuine apprehensions about the future of the Congress
Undaunted by the massive rout she faced in the Lok Sabha election, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is setting an example for senior members of the Congress. While the party has been in paralysis ever since the massive drubbing in the polls and the subsequent resignation of party president Rahul Gandhi, she has been active among party workers in Uttar Pradesh and building a grassroots connect.
On Friday, the Congress general secretary was detained while on her way to meet the victims of a Sonbhadra land dispute that claimed 10 lives.
A Congress party worker accompanying Priyanka said that the Uttar Pradesh Police detained the AICC general secretary near Narayanpur Police station in Mirzapur, while she was on her way to Sonbhadra.
"Priyankaji was illegally detained by the police near Narayanpur Police Station in Mirzapur and prevented from proceeding to Sonbhadra. As a protest against this act, she sat on dharna by the roadside here in Mirzapur. She was on her way from Varanasi, where she visited the victims of clash over land dispute in Sonbhadra, who are admitted at the BHU Trauma Centre. The police couldn’t show any official documents while detaining her. This is absolutely illegal," the Congress worker told Firstpost on the phone.
Her visit is not likely to trigger a churn in the politics of the state, but is most likely to offer hope to the dispirited party members on the lower rungs who harbour genuine apprehensions about the future of the Congress. The senior leaders of the party, meanwhile, are still grappling with the question of their future leader. Besides tendering resignations, some of them haven't done very much more.
This is not the only time after the elections that she has been visible among party workers. She has been at it for some time now. Priyanka is the only leader within the Congress at present who is visibly active — whether on social media or on ground, while the entire organisation is in limbo over the leadership issue.
She has actively been trying to give a fillip to the leadership vacuum in Uttar Pradesh that was exposed after the Congress won only one seat — Rae Bareli — in the General Election.
Immediately after the Congress Working Committee meeting on 25 May in New Delhi, Priyanka formed a committee to review the factors that led to electoral debacle in the state, especially in eastern Uttar Pradesh, as she had been in charge of the region.
Whether it's on the auspicious occasion of Guru Purnima or floods in Assam or the killing in Sonbhadra, she has been active on Twitter in order to connect to a wider audience besides her own party workers. On the day of the Sonbhadra incident, Priyanka had criticised the state government over the law and order situation.
Taking to the micro-blogging site, she had said, "In the BJP-ruled state, the confidence of criminals is so high that broad daylight killings are continuously happening. The killing of nine Gond tribesmen, including 3 women, by the land mafia in Umbha village of Sonbhadra is heart-wrenching. Administration and Chief Minister are all sleeping. Is this how the state will be crime-free?”
Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, when she joined politics as general secretary of Congress and in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, the party workers expected miracles to occur. But, they didn't. Instead, the party witnessed its worst-ever defeat in the state. Her combative and calculated campaign failed to lift the fortunes of the Grand Old Party. As a result, critics have questioned her relevance in the party.
However, as Rahul refused to budge on the issue of withdrawing his resignation, there have been voices from within a section of the party to make Priyanka the new Congress president. Without reacting to it, she has been visiting districts in Uttar Pradesh to connect with party workers.
According to party sources, she has prepared a detailed plan for revival of the party in the state from block- and district-levels, besides reviewing the role played by party leaders during the election.
Not limiting herself to roadside protest dharnas, Priyanka has also addressed party workers, the locals and the media at Chunar Fort, which points to her strategy to amplify the issue and reach out to a larger section across the country.
The electoral defeats of the Congress in quick succession indicate the party's shrinking base at the grassroots, which needs to be strengthened for its revival.
Right now, 47-year-old Priyanka is apparently the only leader in the Congress who is realistically trying to implement what she had told party workers after the Lok Sabha election – that she cannot do magic and they will have to first strengthen the party at the grassroots.