A Possible ACE?

Priyanka Gandhi might not have been able to leave a mark on the last Uttar Pradesh (UP) Assembly Elections during which she campaigned for her mother Sonia Gandhi, but the Congress has not lost hope. Priyanka Gandhi has now been given an extended role to play in the Rae Bareli for the 2014 Lok Sabha Elections. She will hold a public meeting in Rae Bareli every Wednesday and, along with Sonia Gandhi, will also meet people from the constituency in Delhi. While she is presently working as the representative of her mother, it is believed that in 2014 she may go in for a contest from either Rae Bareli or some nearby constituency, owing to the bad health of Sonia. It is interesting to note that she is being promoted at the same time as Rahul Gandhi is being pushed to play a bigger role in the party. Rahul Gandhi lost much of his charm after the bad performance of Congress in the UP Assembly Elections (the Congress bagged only two seats in Amethi) while the rest were lost after the local body elections in the state where the Congress lost badly, and Congress workers may be experiencing a wane in their confidence over Rahul. This might have prompted the Congress to look towards Priyanka as a viable source of light. She might prove to be the ace of the Gandhi family after all.  Congressmen are not ready to see the last UP Assembly Elections results as a commentary on the charisma of Priyanka. They say that she was given just a couple of months before the elections and that too without any tangible powers.
However, this responsibility of hearing public grievances in Rae Bareli shows that Priyanka is ready to take to politics. This means that Rahul will have to take a cue and work harder. Rahul has failed to carve a niche for himself on the political scene. He has not been able to hone his speaking skills and his silence at crucial moments when the country wants to know his views makes him look clueless. It showed during the last UP Assembly Elections and the Congress had to pay the price which was a repeat performance of the Bihar debacle. Those who bank on the Gandhi family for the survival of the party as well as their own political careers would be very disappointed.
The Congress has never looked so pale as now. Even in the aftermath of the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia had a strong presence in the party and it tasted power under her leadership. But her hold seems on the wane after her illness while Rahul Gandhi, who was expected to take over the leadership mantle, has been a disappointment. Party leaders and Ministers have started squabbling and factionalism is on the rise even as the Congress-led UPA government has not been able satisfy the people. Against this backdrop, Sonia, Priyanka and Rahul will find the way ahead difficult.
After the debacle in Uttar Pradesh, the party has not been able to appoint a President. While factionalism has become acute, leaders with a mass base have shied away from taking up the President’s post. To rectify this situation, the party has decided to divide the state unit into four zones, each of which is to have a President who would be in direct contact with Rahul Gandhi. But some believe that this will further boost factionalism.
The party has looked to Priyanka as their last saviour but it must also be kept in mind that she would come a cropper if the Central government does not pay heed to the problems of the masses. The Congress will have to come
out of the quagmire of corruption and time-pleasing if it wants to come out clean in this situation.


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