Will the holy dip by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at the Sangam help the Congress sail through in the critical state elections coming up in Uttar Pradesh. Priyanka is the state incharge and she faces a challenge to not just deliver in Uttar Pradesh which offers a tough challenge but also project herself as a politician who can deliver.
The point is that despite her charisma and campaigns the Congress has just one MP from the state, Sonia Gandhi. The biggest loss of faith came with brother Rahul Gandhi’s constituency Amethi which Priyanka too has been nurturing for long. Before the dubki at the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati river on the occasion of Mauni Amavasya, Priyanka made two stops. Both loaded with political messaging. One was the visit to the Shaktipeeth temple in Saharanpur on Wednesday. This to wade into the Hindutva turf of Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
The second was her visit to Anand Bhavan, in Allahabad, with her daughter Mirayaa. Priyanka paid homage to her great grandfather, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, who has been the target of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s attacks. She wanted to send this message to the BJP that Nehru would be a part of the Congress’s legacy, and proudly so.
But here is the problem. Is Priyanka, through her Hindutva push, getting caught in the BJP’s trap? There is no denying that in Uttar Pradesh the Hindutva agenda is complete. Ram Mandir is bound to play a critical role in the assembly elections in 2022. In the state, the polarisation is near complete and the ‘minority appeasement’ tag on the Congress has not helped the party in UP which has been reduced to a fringe player.
The Congress has been slowly distancing itself from this label and, hence, not just Priyanka but even Rahul Gandhi’s temple runs. It didn’t help the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls but Priyanka hopes that her charisma and this Hindutva push could work for the party. However, it’s a tough competition with the BJP on the Hindutva issue. The construction of Ram Mandir is bound to be an electoral trump card for the BJP. The Congress stayed away from the bhoomi pujan and this is something which could come back to haunt it. And no matter how much the Congress wants to put on the Hindutva garb, it can never match up to the BJP’s image as the true Hinduwadi party.
And this is where the trap is for Priyanka. Some within the Congress feel that as a woman, Priyanka could score as she could turn the incidents of rape like in Hathras and Unnao into ammunition against the UP government. One senior leader from the state said, “We think she could have travelled across the country and state mentioning how women are unsafe.”
But the party says her snan at the Sangam is a fulfilment of her old promise. Anand Bhavan is associated with her childhood and family and hence the visit. But in politics everything has a connotation. The challenges ahead are huge. Can Priyanka swim across to the other side and offer a challenge to the BJP? Or will this dive hit rock bottom?