Politics in India is a family business. Right from 1947, high profile and aristocrat families have been dominating politics in the country. The Nehru-Gandhian family has been the vanguard in this regard. When Priyanka Gandhi, a scion of this family, formally took a plunge in politics, last week, she only but upheld the family tradition. Her joining national political scene ahead of general elections in the country is viewed by many people as a “trump card” that could help the Congress in its battle against Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bhartiya Janata Party. In the last general elections, Priyanka Gandhi restricted herself to a limited role in her brother and mother’s constituencies—Amethi and Raebareli—and came out with flying colours. However, with her formal plunge into politics, she will now look after the election in eastern parts of the country’s largest state Utter Pradesh or UP. With a population of around 20 crores, UP sends the highest number of parliamentarians (80) who are crucial to forming the government. In 2014 general elections the BJP won 73 seats from the state which helped it to oust the Congress from power.
Prinyanka is younger sister of the Congress President Rahul Gandhi. With her looks matching to her grandmother Indira Gandhi, the Congress party feels that she has the magic of creating Indira effect across the country. Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated by her security guards in 1984, was deemed as the most successful Prime Minister, after her father Jawahar Lal Nehru, in India. There had been demands from several Congress quarters for Priyanka’s entry into politics in the past but was reluctant. Congress had been on the edges of Indian politics after its worst ever defeat in 2014 general elections. In a House of 543 members, the Congress managed to win only 45 seats. The Congress suffered stunning defeats in assembly elections in several states as well. However, it received a boost in December, last, when Congress dislodged BJP from power in three key states—Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh. There is an overwhelming opinion in Congress circles that Priyank’s presence (she has been appointed as General Secretary of the party) would electrify the party workers. Some senior analysts also believe that Priyanka has the ability to make impact on bigger audience beyond the borders of the Congress. The BSP-SP alliance in particular has to rethink about their future strategy. The two parties while forming the alliance, last month, kept Congress out of the alliance. Both these parties rely on socially backward classes and Muslim voters. In the changing scenario, Muslims and upper caste Hindus would support Congress.
The Brahmin-Muslim combine, which form almost 35 percent of the overall population of India would be central to any government formation in coming general elections. Reports have it that including Congress into the alliance would be a compulsion for the BSP-SP alliance. If that happens it would have a stunning effect on the elections and BJP’s road to Delhi would not be as easy as it was in 2014. Congress has produced three prime minister for India. Pandit Jawahar Lal, Indira Gandhi and Rajeev Gandhi-all have assumed position of Prime Minister in India since 1947. The Nehru-Gandhi family is now eying for prime ministership for the fourth time. It is perhaps against this backdrop that Narendra Modi took a serious dig on Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into politics saying Congress is a family party while BJP is a family. But it is unlikely to make any impact on ground as almost all political parties in India have the family legacies. All the senior political leaders, irrespective of their party positions, have their sons, daughters and other relatives in politics.