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Wrong Bus


Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the last throw of the dice by the marginalised Congress Party, held a road show in Lucknow on Monday in the company of party President and sibling Rahul Gandhi, and Jyotiraditya Scindia. This was done in the hope of expanding the sliver of votes the party commands in the state. Of course, they had to get off the bus on whose roof they were riding because of low slung power and cable lines, and complete the event on the top of a car. This had happened with Rahul before, but it seems the lesson was not learned. Party activists and the curious were present in large numbers, but not enough to change the present equations.
As the contest for the yet to be announced Lok Sabha elections hots up in India’s most electorally crucial state, the role of the Congress is expected to be only that of a ‘spoiler’. Scindia has a hard task ahead of him in Western UP, where the votes are seriously polarised. Congress believes Eastern UP is still backward enough to be persuaded by Priyanka’s smile, demeanour and Indira Gandhi looks. That is a low base to begin from and the climb up the rankings is going to be very tough. The results may well lay to rest any illusions anybody has about the pulling power of the Nehru-Gandhi family.
Even as they are busy telling the people what they need, perhaps all the contending parties could do well to ask what they want. In UP, as in many other places, it may just be better representation for voters’ castes and communities in power; as also, the willingness among these representatives to divert scarce resources in their direction. Others care little for long term promises and are happy to receive concrete giveaways, preferably before the votes are cast. There are also those who wish to protect privileges and advantageous positioning in the pecking order that they enjoy. Some wish to vent their anger and hatred against those they classify as enemies or oppressors. The SP-BSP Combine and the BJP satisfy these requirements to quite an extent, compared to which the Congress expects voters to take pleasure from being represented by the Gandhis. Unfortunately, people need not look too far to see what that means – the utterly backward Amethi and Rae Bareli are living representations of this model. It does not seem that this latest gambit has the potential to impact much on the fortunes of the Congress. It needs a miracle and Priyanka isn’t it.