With the grand entry of Priyanka Vadra in politics, speculations were rife about the constituency she will contest from. Media reports, as well as Congress insiders, had suggested that Priyanka Vadra might be challenging PM Modi in Varanasi. The fight was supposed to be a ‘clash of the Titans’ one where the ‘fresh face’ of the dynasty will challenge the hitherto invincible leader thereby making it an epic battle of contrasting ideologies symbolic in nature, iconoclastic in scope.
With Rahul Gandhi gradually leading the party to insignificance, the appointment of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was being viewed as a ray of hope to revive the grand old party’s fortunes in the Lok Sabha Elections. Priyanka’s appointment as the general secretary of UP East had been amidst much fanfare. She is the only rare example of a Gandhi who had been isolated from active politics almost her entire life. Now, with her introduction being so hyped up, the choice of her constituency had to be prestigious enough to make a mark, to suit the stature of a ‘Gandhi’. In this regard, there were several rumors that the Gandhi daughter would contest from Rai Bareilly, her mother’s constituency which has been one of the two traditional Congress family bastions. However, Sonia Gandhi’s announcement as to her own candidature from Rai Bareilly effectively put an end to those rumours.
Thereafter, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was considering contesting from Varanasi. There had been increasing demands from party leadership for Priyanka to contest the elections. Even Rahul Gandhi had stated, “As far as Priyanka is concerned, it is up to her to decide if she wants to contest the election or not.”
The seat would have been quite significant, culturally as well as politically. Varanasi holds immense religious significance due to it being a cultural center of Hinduism. Moreover, PM Modi, the current Lok Sabha member from that seat will be re-contesting from Varanasi for 2019 elections as well; whose popularity has only increased. Varanasi is already quite crucial for the virtue of being situated in UP. The geographical significance, coupled by the cultural and political importance, led the constituency to be one of the most vital seats in the country.
With so much at stake, the only persons in the entire clan to able to contest from the seat and make a reasonable contribution in the electoral outcomes would have been the Gandhi heirs. This fact is coupled by the presumption that Congress is all set to be the second runner up in Varanasi.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, though a new entrant in the political sphere is no stranger to the politics at play. She is not a naïve girl but has been the confidant and advisor of her mother and her brother and even acted as a ‘star campaigner’ in both 2004 and 2009 general elections. It is widely known that it is due to Priyanka Gandhi that the two family bastions of the Congress are still intact, though probably not for long given her brother’s substandard leadership.
Due to the existence of the hard-hitting facts which had pre-decided Congress’ future in Varanasi, Priyanka Gandhi knew that her political career will end before it even began if she associates herself with Varanasi. The loss would have disastrous results for her political future. Apart from the political fiasco, the defeat would have been highly embarrassing for the party as well. Moreover, there was also the Mahagathbandhan to think about which had categorically refused to let Congress be a part of the gang. They would definitely be fielding a strong candidate from the constituency. The Mahagathbandhan had already done the grand old party a favor by not fielding candidates from Rai Bareilly and Amethi; the Congress was hence in no position to ask for another favour from the SP-BSP alliance.
Keeping this in mind, Priyanka Gandhi, considering to sacrifice herself for the sake of her brother’s political future had publicly asked in a meeting, “Varanasi se lad lun (should I contest from Varanasi?),” to which the Congress clan heartily cheered. This comment of the privileged daughter clearly reveals her desire to take the electoral plunge.
However, in order to protect their legacy, and playing it safe, Congress has decided not to field Priyanka Gandhi from Varanasi. As per a report by Republic TV, “In a political scoop coming out of the Congress camp, Sources have revealed that Priyanka Vadra may not contest against PM Modi as a fraction of people in the party feels that ‘her loss would be disastrous’.”
The Congress clan obviously knew better. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry into the political sphere has come during a time when it seemed that there was a fair chance this generation of the Nehru-Gandhi clan would not produce a prime minister. With Rahul Gandhi’s substandard leadership quite evident given the growing lack of Congress popularity, Priyanka is viewed as the best possible alternative. Congress cannot risk the disastrous ramifications on the future of the dynasty which would be inevitable if she contests from Varanasi. Though, due to the existence of her striking resemblance to her grandmother, Indira Gandhi coupled by the fact that she is the more favoured among the masses between the two siblings, making her the most popular leader currently in the party, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was the best chance the Congress clan had for Varanasi.
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