Priyanka Gandhi Vadra may have assumed office—literally, she will be occupying her brother’s old office that he had as party vice president—at 24 Akbar Road, but due to security considerations she will not be sitting there daily. However, party sources rule out her contesting the Lok Sabha this year, stating that she would instead be handling the entire eastern Uttar Pradesh charge, comprising 40 Lok Sabha seats that have been handed to her. In a recent interview to a national newspaper, the Congress president indicated that Priyanka could be campaigning in other states as well. Hence, if her prime role is to build the organisation and motivate the cadre, one wonders why she wasn’t handed Ashok Gehlot’s old job of being general secretary in charge of the party organisation, instead of the eastern UP portfolio? Instead, it is the not so inspiring K.C. Venugopal who was handed over Gehlot’s old job.
Phone Call Politics
During her face off against the CBI (and the Central government), West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee got phone calls and messages of support from the entire Mahagathbandan brigade. However, TMC sources claim that one of the first few calls was from Congress president Rahul Gandhi, but before she could take his call, another phone rang with BSP leader Mayawati on the other side. Guess which call she took first! TMC leaders say that she was particularly pleased with Mayawati’s call, for don’t forget that the BSP supremo also fancies herself as a contender for the same top job that Mamata is gunning for—the PM face for the Mahagathbandan.
A noble cause
BJP Chief Whip and Lok Sabha MP Anurag Thakur was recently seen on the dais advocating for the fight against TB. For the cause, he hosted a cricket match involving MPs and global activists working against TB. The former BCCI chief even hit a six for the cause. Also at the event was the Congress’ Major Dalbir Singh—incidentally, a TB survivor—who is the founder president of the Global Coalition Against TB and was a special invitee to the UN General Assembly three months ago to speak for the cause. What is heartening is that parliamentarians and politicians are notching up sixes for a noteworthy cause.
Sachin vs Gehlot
There was an interesting “pehle aap” drama at a Congress press conference in Rajasthan between Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Depty CM Sachin Pilot. When questioned about the Gujjar agitation, the CM pushed the microphone towards the Deputy CM, indicating that he should answer. Being a Gujjar, Pilot was not keen to answer the question, so he asked the media, “Are you asking this question to the party or the government?” When the media replied that the question was for the government, Pilot pushed the microphone towards Gehlot. But not to be outsmarted, Gehlot turned to Pilot and said, “But you are both the party and the government, so you will have to answer this.” Finally, Pilot burst out laughing and gave in, realising that he could not outsmart the veteran on this one.
Getting the Optics Right
Before Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry, there was always speculation that she would be the choice of the Old Guard while the Next Gen preferred Rahul Gandhi. However, Rahul managed to scotch most of this speculation by choosing the veterans Ashok Gehlot and Kamal Nath over Sachin Pilot and Jyotiraditya Scindia as Chief Ministers. And, Priyanka, too, is playing from the same script. At her first meeting of general secretaries, she was found sitting next to two members of the GenNext—Scindia and Bhanwar Jitendra Singh, and not any member of the Old Guard.