P-FACTOR lost among other factors

By  Shimon Chadha | Updated:  Apr 26, 2019, 09:28 AM

Congress has announced its decision to field Ajay Rai from Varanasi, against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In the 2014 elections, Rai suffered an embarrassing defeat, securing less than 1/5th of the votes that Modi won. 
The Congress announcement comes after weeks of rumours and speculation that party general secretary of Uttar Pradesh East and Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, might contest from the seat. The rumours were set ablaze time and again, when, Priyanka, Rahul, and Priyanka’s husband, Robert Vadra, at separate occasions strongly hinted at the possibility. 
The chances of Rai winning against Narendra Modi are practically nil, considering the margin of  votes by which he lost last time, the immense popularity of his opponent, and his lack of substantial work in the past five years. Rai is a five-time MLA, and a local strongman, but does not have any work to his name, especially not of the stature of Modi. In such a dreary scenario, one wonders why the new entrant to the arena, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, was not given the ticket. 
Vadra, after years of being known as the more capable sibling, where Rahul Gandhi has been considered “more reluctant”, was finally coaxed into joining the family workforce, when the Congress announced her as being in-charge of Uttar Pradesh East in January this year. 
“Her entry will change the nature of politics in the country. This will also shatter the illusions of the BJP and give its leaders sleepless nights henceforth,” said Prakash Joshi, AICC secretary in-charge of UP, at the time of her appointment. But did she change the nature of politics? Was she capable of what was expected of her?
Another former Union minister from UP, Jitin Prasada, said: “She is a game-changer. The politics in the Hindi heartland is about to change. With a new general in command, each UP Congress worker is battle-ready. She has not taken any position in a place where the Congress is doing well but taken a challenge head-on in a state where the party badly needs her.”
Vadra has been said to bear a striking resemblance to her grandmother, and former Prime Minister, the late Indira Gandhi, who was popular for her exceptional oratory skills, and wrapping the crowd around her finger. Vadra, who has addressed barely a dozen rallies till now, has not been able to attract huge crowds, nor has she made any remarkable and memorable statements, unlike her opponents. The only noteworthy statement was when she mocked at Modi’s self-proclaimed ‘Chowkidar’ label, by saying that only the rich can afford to have Chowkidars, hinting at the PM’s alleged affiliation with businessmen such as Anil Ambani. Apart from this, if one would reflect on her speeches, is there anything substantial which would assign her a higher rank among other commonplace politicians? They comprise the standard promises, taunting other politicians, and no significant remarks which would compel the people to actually vote for her. As a political analyst rightly said, why is so much expected out of her, after all, she does not have any experience, except what she has seen and heard from her family members. 
Despite all these factors, Vadra’s nomination from Varanasi would not have been a bad call. In fact, it would have been something untested, unpredictable, and might have given the voters of the constituency a chance to consider someone else, someone who might offer different facilities and promises to them. Now, with Ajay Rai, it is a battle already won for Modi  and the BJP. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been reduced to just another party worker, and her potential has not been fully utilised. The “P-factor”, has been put to waste. 

We welcome your comments at [email protected]