What next for Priyanka Vadra Gandhi?
During the last lockdown it was Priyanka Vadra Gandhi as the Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh who led the opposition against the UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, taking on the BJP leader on the issue of not providing buses for the migrants who were returning to the state, the CAA protests and attempts to underplay the Hathras rape and murder case. However, of late—and that too when the state elections are due in a few months—the party seems to have lost steam. Even Priyanka Gandhi’s social media tweets have now enlarged their scope from talking about the deaths of UP teachers who were on duty during the state’s panchayat polls to the cancellation of Class 12 boards. This has led to speculation that Priyanka may be tipped for a larger role within the Congress, one that goes beyond UP. Moreover, the Congress may not want to make her the face of UP polls for all indications are that the Congress will not be able to improve its tally very much. The question of course is: how large will the larger role be? With Rahul Gandhi still reluctant to take over as party chief (or so we are told) will Priyanka step up? That will ensure a Gandhi at the helm and whether she is able to win votes for the party or not, one thing is certain, Priyanka’s presence does have a morale lifting impact on the party workers.
Why did Jitin Prasada join the BJP?
There are some very obvious answers to this question. Did he do it for a ministerial post at the Centre as is rumoured to have been the bargain made by his colleague, former Congressman Jyotiraditya Scindia? It would appear not; for the BJP can hardly justify a ministerial berth as well as a Rajya Sabha for Jitin Prasada when some of its other party leaders have not been inducted as yet. So it was not the lure of a ministerial post. At best the BJP will offer him an MLC from Uttar Pradesh, but this is hardly something that would tempt someone who has been a Congress Working Committee member, part of Team Rahul and a three-generational Congress leader. Clearly the shift has less to do with the BJP or even Jitin Prasada himself and more about the state of the Congress. Today, as things stand, being a Congressman from Uttar Pradesh is an anachronism. Despite Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s best attempts the party is more or less invisible on ground. Yes, there are those who are critical of seeing Jitin’s shift as an opportunistic career move. But politics is not an NGO either. While Scindia’s shift could be seen as anger at being denied the post of chief minister, Jitin’s is that of a frustrated party leader who sees his party stagnating with no signs of a revival. And he is not the only one who thinks like this—that is what should worry the Congress leadership.
Olive branch for Pilot?
Are the Gandhis reaching out to Sachin Pilot? It has been nearly a year after his rebellion and his grouses have still not been addressed. He has resisted any attempts to move him to a high-profile post at the party headquarters until his followers are accommodated in the Ashok Gehlot government. However, of late, he has been voicing his discontent at the delay in delivering on the promises made to him last year. After Jitin Prasada’s exit, there have been rumours that two more Congress leaders may also be leaving soon, with speculation around R.P.N. Singh (another Congress leader from UP) and Sachin Pilot’s names doing the rounds. When Rita Bahuguna Joshi claimed that she had spoken to Pilot and that he would be joining the BJP soon, the Congress leader was quick to scotch this comment, quipping that perhaps Rita Bahuguna spoke to some other Sachin, “maybe Sachin Tendulkar”. However, judging by the number of tributes by various Congress leaders on his father, the late Rajesh Pilot’s death anniversary recently, the party has made it clear that it would not like to lose Sachin. And soon after Ajay Maken, the general secretary in-charge of Rajasthan has announced that a state cabinet reshuffle would take place.
Yogi to Stay
Was Yogi Adityanath summoned to Delhi or did he come here to plead his case? During the meetings between B.L. Santosh, BJP National General Secretary (Organisation) and state BJP leaders, there had been numerous complaints against Yogi’s style of functioning. Hence, during his Delhi visit where he met the BJP top brass, he must have also given his side of the story. It is clear that he will stay, but as to how much control he still wields will be apparent in the following weeks—for if there is a Cabinet reshuffle in the state where his detractors are accommodated then it will be clear that Yogi is simply there as a Hindutva face for the next polls. But if he is able to stand his ground, then it would appear that his backers have had their way.