WATER water everywhere and not a drop to drink! Why would a story on Priyanka Gandhi begin with this old adage? Quite simply because Priyanka or as Smriti Irani has reminded us in the past, Mrs Vadra, is literally standing at the cusp of creating a template for Congress’ revival in UP. There have been several instances in the past where political opportunities have come towards Priyanka only to be squandered. Her brother Rahul has been remodelled and relaunched so many times that his story has reached a dead end. That is the reason why Lakhimpur incident of farmers being killed and Priyanka being detained assumes significance
Rewind to 2011-12! An RTI activist launched an agitation from Ram Leela Maidan to Jantar Mantar demanding appointment of a lokpal. That RTI activist sat on a fast for almost two weeks to press for his demand. Today that activist happens to be Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal. Priyanka Gandhi can look towards Krejriwal if she ever was in need for inspiration. In the grand old political party, decision making can often get hit by entrenched interests. No one would know this more than PGV. Afterall we all remember how she rebuked the old guard of Congress for not standing by her brother post 2019 Lok Sabha polls. If she is serious about bringing in a revival of congress in some way, she first needs to throw her hat in the ring. She now has a good first hand experience of UP. She has looked after her mother’s constituency of Raiberelly and was associated with Amethi too till Smriti Irani trounced Rahul Gandhi. A leader is known by her conviction. If Priyanka is convinced that things can turn around for the Congress, she should learn from mistakes of her brother. Declare herself to be a potential UP CM candidate.
What is clear in our country’s politics is that you cant square off with Modi-Yogi combo with a half-hearted approach. Congress could never find its mojo in hindi heartland post ND Tiwary era. As it lost its space in UP and Bihar, it continued to slide nationally as well. The closest it came to finding some feet on the ground was in 2009 Lok Sabha polls. Congress got 21 Lok Sabha seats in the state. It was number 1 in over a 100 assembly segments. Digivijay Singh who was incharge of UP post 2009 was making tall claims of Congress forming a govt on its own in UP. But a good campaign from Rahul Gandhi in the run up to 2012 assembly polls in the state wasn’t good enough to stop the congress from becoming a number 4 player in the state. Akhilesh Yadav won the election as he simply had better support structure on the ground.
Citizens elect a leader first and then the party. If Priyanka Gandhi doesn’t want this to be yet another flash in the pan episode, she should go beyond simply getting a residence in Lucknow. Position herself as the leader who can lead. But will she? Therein lies the dilema for revival of Congress.