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'Team Gandhi on the loose!'

The Gandhis are on the charm offensive big time, as Priyanka Gandhi begins campaigning in family pocket borough.
Last modified: 17 Apr 2014 15:45
The leaders of all the main political groups are crisscrossing the country like balls in a pinball machine [EPA]

Week two of the general election is over and more than half the voting days complete.

Nearly every state has voted in at least one phase, and there are four election days left, over the next three weeks.

The leaders of all the main political groups are crisscrossing the country like balls in a pinball machine.

Ping, Pong, Ping…they go or for most of the time or it's the more vocal 'Jai Hind' – 'Viva la India or Hail India' – they say as they traverse the narrow roads and lanes, waving and clasping their hands towards onlookers and potential voters.

It is a way of rallying in the troops and election workers that are hurriedly organising processions along the narrow roads and alleyways in towns and cities readying themselves to vote.

The Gandhis are on the charm offensive big time. While their election front man, Rahul, and president of the party, Sonia, have been the faces of the campaign, enter left of stage…Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul's elder sister.

I cannot stop staring at her every time I see her at a rally and even talking. She is the spitting image of her grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1984.

Priyanka has openly said she will not contest the election, but will head the back room operation to assist the direction of the election campaigns for her mother in Rae Bareli and brother in Amethi.

Last Wednesday, in Rae Bareli, she said the following, translated from Hindi…"In this election, you have to choose between two different ideologies. While one is Congress politics of taking everyone along, and contrary to this is politics of opposition, which is individual-centric, and believes in giving power in just one hand. It is the politics of communalism, divide and rule. Now you have to choose between the two."

 Failures of government

The woman does not mince her words and it was impressive to see the power and conviction with which she meant every syllable. Her attack may be directed at Narendra Modi of the BJP, but she knows all too well she has to expose the failures of the state government of Uttar Pradesh, the most populous in India as well.

Here the Samajwadi Party (SP) is under the spotlight. Communal riots last year in Muzzaffarnagar town caused widespread carnage and internal displacement of thousands of Muslims who fled their homes. The elections have only brought this issue to the fore in a state the Congress hopes to make gains in and the SP to hold onto.

While Priyanka tells villagers in Rahi …"that central government built national roads , but the state government failed to main them.. Central government brought electricity poles, but the state government failed to bring electricity to you…"

They are words she hopes will not fall on deaf ears.

What has not been lost on the analysts and media hawks is the effort and zeal with which she has committed herself to this election, be it from behind the scenes.

Her role now will be significant if, as many believe, she runs in the 17th General Election in 2019…. or earlier!

The larger question in what capacity and with what goal…. Prime Minister perhaps?…like her father, grandmother and great grandfather before her.