Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s debut may have been at the very last minute, but one thing is certain, she has certainly enjoyed this campaign as was clear from the fun she had on the campaign trail. Every journalist who covered her beat, got a “tic-tac” (journo slang for a short interview); she played to the crowds, making short but pithy speeches. At Pathankot, when party workers hired a wedding band to greet her with Bhangra music, she broke into an impromptu dance step with Navjot Sidhu joining in. Addressing the crowd she said that she had recently seen a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi hugging a small child and was delighted that the PM was reaching out to others than big industrialists (this was all in colloquial Hindi, with the right pauses and wide eyed look for rhetorical emphasis). Then, she continues, “I read the caption beneath the picture and realised he was hugging Amit Shah’s grandson” (at which she holds her head in her hands to convey mock dismay). Well her rallies certainly pulled the crowds, but can the Congress convert these into votes?
MGB vs BJP vs Congress
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav is confident that the Mahagathbandan would get more seats than the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. His angst is not just with the BJP, but also the Congress for as he told NewsX in an exclusive interview, “They filed fraud PILs against us. When we were talking about an alliance they were not interested and once we finalised the seat sharing between Mayawati, RLD and us, they wanted to join in.” One wonders if this bitterness will last post polls as well.
On the Radar
However, Akhilesh Yadav couldn’t resist having a dig at Prime Minister Modi’s cloud cover theory. Speaking to NewsX on his way to Varanasi, as his plane touched the ground he said, “Well here I am, to campaign in the PM’s constituency, without the benefit of cloud cover, aur bina kali ghataenge (without dark clouds) but very visible on the janata ka radar.”
Pawar the Dark Horse?
Well it’s now time for post poll confabulations and this election has certainly seen the rise of regional powers. Conventional wisdom has it if there is a hung house than the regional parties will make a bid for the PM’s post, with Congress support, if needed. For this, there are various contenders, from Mamata Banerjee, Mayawati to KCR and Chandrababu Naidu. But there are the obvious names. At least one senior UPA leader and one NDA ally has told me, that do not rule out the dark horse: and both named Sharad Pawar. Yes, his party is not as large or influential as the BSP, TMC or TRC. But Pawar has one enviable quality—he is very well networked across parties in both the NDA and UPA. Plus while Rahul Gandhi may not be keen on his candidature, Pawar has many well-wishers in the Congress. So, while Deve Gowda won the post because he was everyone’s last choice, Pawar could win simply because he is everyone’s second preference candidate.