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Opposition wary as Priyanka’s road show changes political discourse

2/13/2019

Pravesh Kumar Mishra, New Delhi, While Congress leaders are overwhelmed by the massive crowd at party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi’s road show in UP, the leaders of BJP, SP and BSP are disconcerted. Political pundits believe the success of the road show could herald the change in the days to come. A senior Congress leader said the massive rush of people at Priyanka’s road show shows the direction in which the political winds are blowing. The party leadership is only too aware that its position would never become truly legitimate unless it becomes a key political force in UP. The party last polled over 30 per cent of the vote in the state in 1989, when it won 15 seats, and thereafter it has been a slide down. Barring 2009, when it partnered other parties, the Congress votes hare has remained less than 10 per cent. With Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into politics, the party has put its best foot forward in the state and beyond. The race for 2019 has become more intense, and the process of revival of the Congress Party has received a new momentum. It remains to be seen if the brother-sister duo, with the mother’s guidance, can convert this potential into reality. Priyanka began her political inning with a mega road show in Lucknow. Priyanka was accompanied by her brother and Congress chief Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia. Congress leaders feel that the excitement among people in Lucknow will be seen in the entire Uttar Pradesh soon. BJP strategists believe that her formal entry into politics has imparted the much-needed enthusiasm to the party, which lost power in 2014 amid a historic victory of the BJP, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Headed into the 2019 general election, the Congress starts from a position of weakness. Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into active politics comes at a time when the Congress needs all the help it can get. The party has seen few victories since a disastrous 2014 general election performance, and Gandhi provides a much needed morale boost to the Congress rank-and-file. With Priyanka Gandhi heading the Congress party’s campaign in eastern Uttar Pradesh — home to the parliamentary seats of her mother, brother, and Prime Minister Modi of the ruling BJP — the party may gain new leverage with fellow opposition forces. But the Priyanka Gandhi play is not only about winning allies and lifting spirits. Vadra, unlike Modi, is just a campaigner; there is no indication that she will contest elections herself. This goes without saying that success of Priyanka’s road show has changed the political discourse. The Congress which was earlier looked down with disdain in Uttar Pradesh is now back in reckoning and if it plays its cards well, the party can win not less than 20 seats in this Lok Sabha election.Everyone is now talking about Priyanka and how she can turn the Congress into a winning force.

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