Cong sheds inhibition on defending 'son-in-law'

Cong sheds inhibition on defending 'son-in-law'

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her husband Robert Vadra are pictured outside the Enforcement Directorate, in New Delhi on Wednesday. REUTERS

When Priyanka Gandhi accompanied his husband Robert Vadra to the ED office where the latter was questioned, the message was loud and clear: the Congress has shed their inhibition about associating with the Gandhi family's son-in-law.

It is significant that the move was made by Priyanka right after she was appointed the national general secretary of the party and on a day she was holding a meeting with party workers.

On Wednesday, posters of Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka and Vadra under the tagline "Kattar soch nahin, yuva josh" (Youthful energy and not fanatic ideology) were put up near the Congress office by Jagdish Sharma, a Vadra supporter.

Soon after anointing Priyanka as the general secretary, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had said the Congress will play on the "front foot".

In the last year, Congress has often been coming to Vadra's defence, in stark contrast to the inhibitions they earlier held about him.

In the months before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Congress described Vadra as "private citizen" an umpteen number of times at the height of the controversy over Vadra’s controversial land deals in Haryana.

Many in the Congress believed that one of the reasons the Congress was not pushing Priyanka into bigger roles was the fear that Vadra's corruption cases would make a big comeback and the party would become an easy target for the BJP.

Vadra was thought of as the albatross around the Congress' neck that stopped Priyanka from assuming a greater role within the party.

However, Priyanka has always shown solidarity with her husband, even when the party stayed away.

In May 2014, immediately after the Modi government came to power, media reports surfaced that the no-frisking privileges given to Robert Vadra will be withdrawn.

Priyanka chose to take the bull by horns and shot off a letter to the then SPG chief Durga Prasad demanding that the withdrawal of privileges is implemented immediately for her, her children and her husband and that they are treated like ordinary passengers at any airport.

The government later clarified then no such move was afoot.

At the Congress headquarters, when she took over as the in-charge of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka said that she stands by her family.

Priyanka's carefully protected image of a "Bhartiya naari" who is standing by her husband in all odds may somewhat blunt BJP’s "foreign-origin" narrative built around Sonia Gandhi.

And the BJP would have to prove something substantial against Vadra if it wants to change the narrative towards "fight against corruption by a family".

As of now, the ED action, coming just months before the Lok Sabha polls will come in handy for the Congress to cry "political witchhunt".