Expect the dynasty debate to get sharper and more bilious now. With the Priyanka decision, Congress president Rahul Gandhi has thrown an open challenge to the relentless critics of the ‘family’. The move translated into unambiguous words would read like this: ‘Yes, you had your say over the years, with all nastiness and hatefulness. Now, we have decided to take you on. Stop us if you can.’
The BJP’s top leadership, which has been unusually acerbic and personal in targeting the Gandhis, should be worried. This is for several reasons. One, it is apparent now that Priyanka and Rahul are in politics for the long haul. Since the ‘family’ is the adhesive that keeps a fractious Congress together, the possibility of the party disintegrating is remote. Despite poor electoral performances in recent years, the worst being on 2014, it retains a decent vote share across the country. It was missing an inspirational leader. If a relatively weak Rahul could deliver the knock-out punch to the BJP in Hindi heartland states, his combination with a much-stronger Priyanka could make the punch much heavier.
After going to town about a ‘Congress-mukt Bharat’ with juvenile delight, the party brass may be finding the changing situation embarrassing. The choice of the word ‘juvenile’ is well-considered. No mature political party celebrates electoral success with such braggadocio, no political party treats political opponents with such disdain as the BJP does.
Two, the re-emergence of the Congress brings back the ideological counterweight to the BJP-Sangh narrative. The country has started realising that the ideology of divisiveness, anger and hatred has gone too far. It is ridiculous to brand fellow Indians as anti-nationals and unpatriotic. It’s equally distasteful to peddle myth as history and science and attack creative people and intellectuals. Continuous electoral victories made the Right complex, the RSS eco-system, believe that victories were indeed popular validation of their ideology. In the absence of political pushback, the belief crystallised into firm conviction.
The hate of the Sangh Parivar for the Gandhis stems from the fact that the family, starting from the days of Nehru, has stood in stark opposition to their ideology. In fact, it has been a rallying point for all other political parties with Nehruvian convictions. This explains the undiluted acerbity in the attack of the BJP-Sangh leaders on the Gandhis. Just when they felt the war has been conclusively won, Rahul Gandhi delivered the Hindi heartland blow. Amid such circumstances, Priyanka comes as a force-multiplier. With her poise and articulation, she is likely to lead the ideological charge against the BJP-Sangh. The prospect won’t make the latter comfortable.
Three, the insistence of the BJP on the dynasty question has always been a case of overkill. Senior leaders of the party spare no chance to shower abuses on the family, blaming it virtually for all the ills of the country. This attack can go sharper as Priyanka gets into the picture. It is rather intriguing that a party with a large chunk of dynasts in its own ranks would blame the Congress for being dynastic, but the party believes such attack has plenty of takers in the country. With the induction of Priyanka, the rebuttal from the Grand Old Party is resounding: ‘We are family, so what?’ The BJP will need to find a way to contest that.
The easy option would be to go after Robert Vadra, Priyanka’s husband who is embroiled in questionable land deals in Rajasthan and Haryana. We have to wait to find how it pans out in the coming days.
The political discourse in the country is set to get interesting. The battle line has been drawn. Let’s see who draws first blood and who has the last laugh!
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