The thing about the Gandhi dynasty is that people always seem to believe that some member of it or the other is arriving, messiah-like. While the nation waits for the coming of age of Rahul Gandhi with Rae Bareli, in the constituency itself, it’s Priyanka they wait for. “She is young, she is already looking into issues related to our constituency, and she knows all our leaders, workers and people here. She is a daughter of the district. And more than all this, she doesn’t have any responsibility in the party at the national level. So why not Priyanka then?” a local Congress leader from Rae Bareli, now represented by Sonia Gandhi in Parliament, asks.
Workers and functionaries in the local Congress unit believe that in the next election, Priyanka—not Sonia—will be the MP from Rae Bareli, once represented by Feroze Gandhi, then Indira Gandhi. In the 2012 assembly polls, the Congress lost all five seats making up the Rae Bareli parliamentary constituency. Four went to the Samajwadi Party.
Political discussions have started, in drawing rooms and tea shops, that Priyanka will be the next face-saver for the dynasty in its pocketborough. For Congress loyalists, there is the belief that voting in a state and national poll will be very different. People also say the fact that Sonia is busy with national-level politics possibly did not allow her to give time to her seat.
Many Congress workers and leaders are happy with this. O.P. Srivastava, a PCC member and senior Congress leader from Rae Bareli, says, “There’s a spark in all our workers since she took over as in-charge of affairs here. Her presence has worked as a catalyst for the party here. It would be great if she is seen as an option, though the stature of Sonia Gandhi is far ahead of all, including her family members.”
Priyanka has handled election campaigns for her mother and brother in past elections. Earlier this year, she focused on the seat but the Congress fared miserably. Akhilesh Singh is the MLA who has won the town seat several times and in 2012 stood on the symbol of the Peace Party, which he has quit. He says, “The Gandhi family’s ground is eroding. They have forgotten the history of Rae Bareli: this is where Raj Narain defeated Indira Gandhi. The glamour of the Gandhis is fading and the people of Rae Bareli will repeat 1977 (when Indira was defeated). Sonia or Priyanka, this time it will be an anti-Gandhi vote.”
Yet the loyalists are still very much there. Dinesh Singh, an MLC and local Congress leader, is firm in his belief that the Gandhis will prevail. “There’s nothing better than Soniaji and only she can break her own record. We want her to contest again from the area, but considering the responsibilities she has, we would be happy if Priyankaji contested the next election.” Priyanka’s office, predictably, does not respond to the query. But in the seat long nurtured by her family, they are certain she is coming. To her advantage, many locals brush off the charges against her husband Robert Vadra. Also, the Samajwadi Party hasn’t so far fielded anyone here, though it has released two lists of candidates for the 2014 elections.
In their stated desire to elect Priyanka Vadra as their MP (Calling the Daughter, Dec 3), Rae Bareli’s people will only reinforce the impression that India is a monarchy masquerading as a democracy.
D.L. Narayan, Visakhapatnam
Keep worshipping her, people of Rae Bareli. She and her family have kept you where they want you to be and a hundred years on they will keep you there still, while the world moves ahead.
Priya Madhavan, Rochester, US
Priyanka, being young and photogenic, will create a media buzz if she enters politics. Rae Bareli, the constituency she may well represent one day, will benefit as much in development as it has when older members of the Nehru-Gandhi family represented it. But the Samajwadi Party has won their hearts too, so it won’t be an easy political walkover.
Parshuram Gautampurkar, Sawai Madhopur
The people of Rae Bareli always considered themselves more equal than others because, over the years, they have been represented by members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. In Priyanka’s emergence, they will renew their expectations of further development of the area.
Pramod Srivastava, New Delhi
Thank you to all those who have taken the trouble to read the article and share their thoughts. Out of the arguments made here, there are two that perhaps need answering. So here they go.
1. The first part of the article compares outcomes (relative percentages of population of the religions concerned) irrespective of the process that led to those outcomes - whether immigration, relatively faster population growth or conversions. This was for two reasons. One, to put the figure of 2.3 per cent in "numerical perspective", as the article itself explained. The second reason was that outcomes are ultimately what the crux of debate is about. The rest of the article in any case dealt with process - or conversions in this case, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.
2. Some commenters have tried to cast doubts on the reliability of Census 2001. Those who do this should bear in mind that Census 2001 was conducted by a BJP government. Considering the extreme importance that BJP gives to this issue, it would be reasonable to expect that IF it had perceived a problem with the methodology that was distorting the numbers, it would have fixed it. As the article mentioned, BJP or BJP-supported governments have been in power for 10 of the last 40 years, or about a quarter of the time, and the only reasonable conclusion one can arrive at is that any misreporting of numbers, real or perceived, would be marginal and hence, not of importance.
To all other arguments made, my answer is the following: Please read the article again, with particular focus on the quotations of Vivekananda and Monier Williams, and the history of the missionary efforts in Bengal and their outcome.
@14 “She married Robert Vadra-the greatest investor of all time. Vadra knows how to convert mere lakhs into hundreds of crores. And Priyanka pocketed him!! What other achievement is needed?”
Very True; but I would rather a woman steal on her own right and come to power on her own right.
Priyanka has the name to loot on her own right. Now she is just the sidekick, a beneficiary of her husband’s looting via the family name.
Mamta Banerjee and Mayawati, (internationally Angela Merkel) are agents of change (positive or negative). They have achieved more in terms of leadership and ‘empowering’ themselves than the crutches (which is Indira Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, Benazir Bhutto, Jayalalitha, Aung sang Suchi). The family democracies are all pedigree or lineage democracies. These women (and the men from within the families) view their parties and their country as their personal property. These individuals have undermined democracy rather than enabled it.
Great future awaits you, Panini Anand.
Great future awaits you, Panini Anand.
That shows you got the hidden message before Priyanka got it :-) And thanks to you, I got it too! LOL.
A couple of years ago I happened to be in Allahabad.Out of my own curiosity just as most others, I too paid pilgramage to Anand Bhawan, the birth place of Nehru and Mrs.Gandhi. I was appalled at the poor civic maintenance of the surroundings which smelt of urine. The city too was nothing to write home about. The rail station and Bus stand seemed as was where was the condition left by the Brits, and perhaps became even more congested.
What can any expect from such people who cannot get to manage their own affairs. I felt outraged at the poor leadership quality of our Netas who pass on shabbiness as simplicity.Dont we have any sense of pride to show the world that we too can do things better? I guess our leaders work over time to prove Churchill after all was right when he said, 'Indians are incapable of fairness and honourably administer themselves...
Rae Bareli has not been developed even thro' continuous years of Nehru-Gandhi representation. The benevelonce of the aam admiyon of RB is baffling. Why do they vote for a non-performing representative. If someone does not do the job, you sack him/her, not give the person's offspring the same job.
"To her advantage, many locals brush off the charges against her husband Robert Vadra."
Why only locals? India as a whole cares less about the corruption of Vadra. We have amazing tolerance levels when it comes to corruption. No other people are this tolerant.
BTW, I think the talk of Priyanka is premature. I am expecting Robert Vadra to contest one of the dynasty seats-not Priyanka.
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