Will Priyanka Gandhi be able to continue the Gandhi-Nehru legacy?
On 23rd January 2019, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was appointed as a general secretary of the Congress party. Coming only a couple of months prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, this is an important step indeed. Priyanka, who happens to be the younger sibling of Rahul Gandhi, the President of Congress, has been given charge of taking care of Uttar Pradesh East. In fact, this happens to be the first time ever that Priyanka has been appointed to a post formally within the party itself. She has always played a part in politics though albeit in a marginal manner. She has been to rallies with Rahul and her mother Sonia.
The Gandhi Nehru line
With her becoming a part of the party formally Priyanka becomes the 11th member of the Gandhi Nehru family to be inducted into the national level party. In fact, this lineage can be traced back to Motilal Nehru, the father of Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of the country. Motilal was a member of the party and a prominent name in the Indian independence movement. He served on two occasions as the party president – first from 1919 to 1920 and then from 1928 to 1929.
Carrying the pedigree
The position of this family in the context of Indian politics is pretty well known. It also needs to be said that she carries this immense pedigree with ease. She has already has had a few meetings at eastern UP (Uttar Pradesh), which is also the parliamentary constituency of her mother, and in Karnataka. In these meetings she has shown herself to be a rather articulate communicator as well. However, as may be expected in cases such as these, some overzealous supporters in the party as well as sections in the media have started drawing parallels between her and her grandmother Indira Gandhi. This is one trap that she needs to avoid.
What face would she adopt?
For all her great decisions in her term as the Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi also made more than her fair share of mistakes. She started by allying with the Left, the very ones that she had thrown out in 1959 from Kerala in spite of being democratically elected in her capacity as the party president. She started off by nationalizing several privately owned banks and serving notices to the owners. Before the Emergency she also had progressive advisors of the class of Mohan Kumaramangalam and AN Haskar. However, the Emergency proved to be her bane. The Left parted company and this brought back advisors who were more aligned with the corporates who had been ousted from the banks than the country as such. Needless to say, they are still siphoning off money from all the nationalized banks.
Bereft of proper advice she had to rely on parochial advice and thus she basically waded into the Golden Temple issue, which ultimately took her life. Over the years Sonia Gandhi tried to bring back the humane side of the party by setting up a Left leaning advisory council. One only feels that Priyanka follows more in the footsteps of her mother than her grandmother. She should become the middle class icon that most people are expecting her to become.