Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during the campaigning
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Women candidates to boost lost morale of Congress Party?

Najmul Hasan Rizvi

As Priyanka Gandhi (Vadra) enters officially into active politics as a general secretary of Congress and in-charge of Purvanchal area, the leaders from the grand old party are dreaming that she would change the electoral fortune of the party overnight. However, it is impossible as the organisational structure of the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh is very weak and most of the old guards are either with Samajwadi Party(SP), Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) or Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP). The existing organisation is fighting within and groups parted them.  

It is not going to be an easy task for her. There is a very short span of time to perform and prove her mantle in three months. The first and most complicated task ahead for her in Purvanchal is to build a comprehensive party structure and bring back old members to party folds. Party cannot win any election without the dedicated workers. Next, she will have to set up the district and booth level committees as most of old Congress workers have either joined other parties particularly BJP.

Another tough task ahead for Priyanka is to win over the confidence of upper caste voters. In UP Congress still has 7 to 10 per cent vote share that too among high castes. These vote shares do vote for the party only on the condition that it is not allied with any of low caste parties like SP or BSP. In 2009 Congress had secured 22 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh because it had contested that election alone.

Repeating that situation for the party is not going to be an easy task for both Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia who has been appointed as party general secretary in charge of western UP as the Congress is having a tacit electoral understanding with the SP-BSP combine under the formidable alliance of SP and BSP have left two seats of Amethi and Rai Bareli for Congress party. Similarly, Congress is also leaving two seats for Akhilesh Yadav of Samajwadi Party and Mayawati of BSP.

Her entry was the most awaited event and is expected to change the political scene. Even Maharashtra unit of Congress has asked both the Gandhi scions to take at least one rally in the state before Model Code of Conduct implemented.

As a campaigner, Priyanka can compare with anyone. She has charm, wit and strong resemblance with her grandmother. During her limited campaign, she has shown that she has the capacity to win over audiences in general and women in particular. Leaving aside her appeal to the audience who in the past were part of the Congress, she also has the ability to select candidates and associates who could help her to rebuild Congress party in U.P. 

After Priyanka Gandhi announced her entry, the party is inducting and elevating more and more women in the party and doing charcha of giving tickets to them. The recent example is ‘Angoori bhabhi’ Shilpa Shinde. Shinde is expected to fight from North Mumbai seat on Congress ticket, if sources are to be believed. Her popularity in Hindi speaking people is huge. Shinde is remembered not just for her stint as Angoori Bhabhi, which came to an abrupt end because of alleged differences with the producers, but also for emerging as the triumphant winner of the popular reality TV show Bigg Boss 11.

The one remarkable thing about Shinde all along has been her fighting spirit.

Nagma is another woman politician in Congress Party who is ready to take any BJP candidate. Earlier in 2014, she fought Lok Sabha polls from Meerut seat, but she is very much keen to fight this upcoming Lok Sabha election from Mumbai North-West constituency, where most of the film personalities are voters. However, Congress sources said she might get Moradabad in Uttar Pradesh to contest, which was earlier fought by Former Indian Cricketer Mohammad Azharuddin. Nagma was “a prominent campaigner for the Congress party… on the election trail for the party in Bihar and Jharkhand. She had been a key star campaigner for the Congress Party in Andhra Pradesh during the April 2004 elections. She had only formally become a member of the Congress Party in Hyderabad earlier that same month, reportedly citing its ‘commitment towards secularism and welfare of the poor and weaker sections’ as her reason for joining.

Elevation of Congress National Spokesperson Priyanka Chaturvedi is also in Congress card. She also has shown interest for contesting from Mumbai. A resident of Goregaon, Chaturvedi wants to fight from Mumbai North seat.

Demands for the introduction of Priyadarshini Raje Scindia, wife of Congress Member of Parliament (MP) Jyotiraditya Scindia, into politics has grown after Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was appointed in Congress. Apart from a few occasions when she campaigned for Jyotiraditya, Priyadarshini has stayed away from active politics. Priyadarshini’s induction into Congress would bolster the party’s popularity in Madhya Pradesh, think Congress members.

Even in Delhi, Congress Party banks on 80-year-old former Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. She was appointed as Delhi Congress unit chief last month. Dikshit, who ruled Delhi for record fifteen years, is hope for Congress that she might revive the party in the national capital. It seems that Congress’ women armour may shield the party from BJP’s salvo and boost the lost morale of its members in the coming election.