Though restricted to electioneering in Amethi and Raebareli, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra appears to have salvaged the flagging Congress campaign by her incisive attacks on the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.
The BJP may have stepped up the attack on Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra for his controversial land deals, but Modi himself has refrained from launching any attack on her.
Priyanka’s targeting of Modi and the BJP has brought the focus back on the Congress election campaign, which had been lagging in media coverage as compared to that of the saffron party. “Priyanka has decided to limit herself to the two constituencies of Raebareli and Amethi. But the message she wants to convey has resonated across the country through television and print media,” said a Congress source.
There has been demand from a section of Congress workers for Priyanka to take a more active role in the party, particularly in campaigning during elections. However, she has consciously restricted herself to the constituencies of her mother and brother—Raebareli and Amethi, respectively. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who hit the campaign trail in January, comes across as a reluctant politician who is at ease when addressing a captive audience—be it at rallies or the party forum. The chinks in his communications armour were revealed in his first ever interview to a television channel.
On the other hand, Priyanka appears quite at ease while interacting with voters in Raebareli and Amethi. In her brief speeches, she is deft at unsettling her opponents with minimum effort. “You do not need a 56-inch chest to run this country; a big heart is enough,” her matter-of-fact remark while campaigning in Raebareli on Sunday countered Modi more effectively than the harsh words used by some Congress campaigners.
A senior Congress leader refused to compare the campaigning styles of Rahul and Priyanka. “The campaigns complement each other,” he said. On Sunday, when the BJP released a video targeting her husband Robert Vadra, Priyanka hit back, saying the BJP was baffled and running around like “panic-stricken rats”.