It would be one of the most anticipated political forays should Priyanka Gandhi take the electoral plunge. While there have been consistent demands from Congressmen for fielding Priyanka, purportedly for her “political acumen” to “revive” the fortunes of a floundering party, the party and her brother, Rahul Gandhi, have maintained it was “strictly her decision”.
Therefore, senior Congressman Janardan Dwivedi’s statement, coming as it does on the 2014 poll eve, on the late Rajiv Gandhi recognising his daughter’s political aptitude way back in 1990, has set off the cat among the pigeons within the party.
Dwivedi said, “As far as I know, her (Priyanka) interest in politics started at an early age. She was keen to understand political developments and the language of politics from the very start. I even have proof of this but I don’t want to discuss it now. All I’ll say is that Rajiv Gandhi told me something about this in 1990. That's all for the moment.”
Many in the Congress are speculating on Dwivedi’s intent on making the statement, which obviously puts into question the line of succession of the Congress, resting on the shoulders of a “reluctant” scion Rahul. Rahul’s appointment as the party vice-president and injecting “landmark changes” in the functioning of the party had been followed by a series of Assembly poll setbacks and forecasts of Congress decimation in the coming polls.
While Priyanka has taken over the campaigning in Rae Bareli and Amethi constituencies, leaving her mother and brother to focus on the rest of the country and is even playing a major role in coordination work, she has desisted from contesting herself.
Dwivedi’s statement, say insiders, is partly a reflection of the struggle between the old guard and the new guard, that has beset the party with Rahul taking over the reins.
Dwivedi, a senior AICC general secretary is considered to be close to the party President Sonia Gandhi; a position which he leveraged to claw his way back when he was sidelined (by Rahul Gandhi) after being replaced as media in-charge for all practical purposes, by a younger Ajay Maken who took over as general secretary in-charge of media and publicity.
Dwivedi say insiders, has now been reinstated to his prime position with all official party communication released in his name. Nonetheless, his position like many other veterans within the party is not as secure as it used to be under Sonia Gandhi.
If the pollsters are proved right and Congress comes a cropper, Rahul’s fortunes would obviously post 2014 be on a decline, paving the way for Priyanka’s entry.
Dwivedi, the seasoned politician is therefore well before time, latching his fortunes to that of the more promising scion. There is also a section within the party that argues, Dwivedi could be signalling the entry of Priyanka into politics soon — something that most dismiss as conjecture. Not only would the controversy surrounding her husband Robert Vadra jettison her chances now, her entry would also eclipse the position of her brother Rahul within the party.
Dwivedi’s googly had the Congress preferring to maintain a distance from his statement. The party stated that Priyanka had “chosen not to expand the areas of her political interests” and would continue to be a “pillar of strength both for her brother and mother”