Last week, Priyanka Gandhi walked into the Congress’s high-level strategy meeting at her brother Rahul’s house when he himself was not present. The usual frisson of excitement that attends her every political gesture followed. A connection was made to the party being at its lowest ebb: would she start taking a more active role and electrify an organisation that is dispirited, defeated and directionless? Like in a spaghetti western, the excitement dipped as quickly as it had risen. “She joined only in the last minutes of the meeting,” a party source said, dismissing all speculations.
It’s a measure of the party’s despondency that wild speculation thrives about Priyanka even when it has said that an “important announcement” will be made in Delhi on January 17—probably related to her brother Rahul. Already Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has made what is being seen as his “farewell speech”, in which he has hoped that history will judge him more kindly than the media, the opposition parties and people in general have. In earlier statements, he’d even said Rahul would make a worthy successor. Manmohan’s reference to the nuclear deal with the US as his crowning achievement—with no mention of the RTI, nrhm, NREGA and the Lokpal bill—shows his eye is clearly on the exit door. Now wonder he seemed to be speaking only for himself.