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Home > News > Columnists > Nazarwala

Sonia must back Priyanka, not Rahul

September 25, 2007

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Election fever has set in.

The Bharatiya Janata Party's cadres are in shambles. Infighting continues unabated at all levels. Atalji is too old for active electioneering.

The Samajwadi Party is being decimated. Mulayam Singh Yadav will hit back. His strength lies in the hinterland of Uttar Pradesh.

Mayawati has taken the lead. Her scouts have almost completed the preliminary survey in most constituencies. Hectic work is on all over the country, silently. She has got a headstart and is racing ahead.

The Congress party has almost shrunk. Its cadres feel neglected. They are rudderless and reckless.

Sonia Gandhi's [Images] credibility and credentials have eroded. How?

Thanks to her championing of two causes: Promoting Pratibha Patil [Images] as the Congress's Presidential candidate and insisting on India signing the 123 Agreement.

Whatever may be the merits of the above, she has misjudged the Indian psyche.

She has already become a liability to the Congress party.

The Congress has no issue. Except Rahulbaba.

The party has ambitious leaders but they have no strength of enthusiastic workers. The parliamentary election will be won or lost on a party's cadres, dedicated workers willing to slog in inhospitable, almost hostile terrain.

To expect Rahulbaba to manage a national election is asking for too much. He misjudged UP's voters. Understanding the national voter psyche is not his cup of tea.

The Congress's only youthful, brilliant, and brainy leader is Priyanka Vadra. She has all the charisma the foolish/sentimental Indian voter looks for in a popular leader.

The wiles and guile of the famous Nehru-Gandhi political gharana are ingrained in her genes. She can match the most cunning Indian politician, including Mayawati, on his/her home turf.

She is the sole trump card for the Congress party whose turn has come to play or pack up. The Congress's gamblers have no choice now left but to aggressively project Priyanka Vadra as their leader.

The old fossils will not relish it. But they have all collectively ruined the Congress.

The nation may now be looking up to the Congress sans Sonia Gandhi. Priyanka can step in and fill the vacuum. She will not achieve miraculous results. Certainly not.

But then, who else in the shrinking and decaying Congress party can dream of doing that today? And how?

Priyanka is solid and shrewd enough to revitalise the decrepit Congress. She is competent and calculating enough to re-energise and build an active cadre on a national scale. Given a free hand, she has it in her to deliver.

The electronic media will build her up and she can give them superb bytes. She is photogenic and diplomatic. Politically correct and savvy. Energetic and aggressive.

She can draw huge crowds. The youth of India may take a fancy for her, pining as it does for a 'change of the system' -- whatever that may mean.

The relationship between Sonia and Mayawati has soured. Mayawati can be contained/confined to UP only by a charismatic leader.

And in the present atmosphere, it can be none except Priyanka Vadra.

Mayawati has the Dalits solidly backing her. She is growing from strength to strength across the country. She is no walkover. She is a ruthless and powerful politician.

Priyanka can try and mobilise the youth, cutting across caste lines. Agreed, this seems to be a tall order, seeing the domination of casteism in elections. But, if there is a single personality who can challenge Mayawati, that one person is Priyanka Vadra.

The dream, which Mayawati nurses to become prime minister, is well known. But, to become the prime minister of India, she will have to fight a parliamentary election.

Mayawati would prefer to enter through the back door of a by-election. This can give her more freedom to tour the country and organise her cadres with a freer hand. However, that approach will be quite unbecoming of a prime ministerial aspirant.

Priyanka's fresh personality is attractive enough to challenge Mayawati in UP.

It will also ensure that Mayawati is confined to UP.

The overall gain for the Congress in terms of a contained Mayawati on the national scene will be substantial.

The most important factor is the time factor.

Whoever takes the lead and initiative will have the early bird advantage. Something like winning the toss in cricket and having the advantage of deciding what to do.

Priyanka has to be allowed to launch the Congress parliamentary campaign immediately from Lucknow.

She has to give that million-dollar smile and make her surprise announcement in Lucknow through the national media.

That it is she, Priyanka Vadra, who is sportingly challenging the mighty Mayawati. To fight against her from the capital of Uttar Pradesh -- the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat, to be more specific. Insecure Mayawati may, out of sheer bravado, take up the challenge.

If the procrastinating Congress acts real fast to take the initiative immediately, the entire scenario will change dramatically. In any case, the Congress has nothing much to lose.

Timing is of the essence.

Indira Gandhi [Images] knew it so well. Priyanka Gandhi [Images] knows it too. If this opportunity is lost, everything is lost for the Congress.

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