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Tuesday, Oct 26, 2021
Outlook.com

The Angelic Hierarchy

Outlook's opinion poll says nearly 70 per cent want Rahul and Priyanka to enter the fray in the upcoming elections. Will the Congress show its hand? Or keep its trumpcards for another time? And should the gerontocratic BJP brass be worried?

The Angelic Hierarchy
Jitender Gupta
The Angelic Hierarchy
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53
Now it's official. The icons-on-the-make of the Congress, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, will campaign for the party during Lok Sabha 2004. So is the Congress confident that its double trumpcards will reduce the BJP to rubble? And is the saffron squad quaking? Neither is true. A series of dharnas, padayatras, anshans (fasts) and petitions written in blood—not to mention a formal request enshrined in the Pranab Mukherjee Committee report—went into "coaxing" the two into making a political debut. The Congress is positive that they will ignite party workers and electrify its campaign, True, perhaps, but will their charisma translate into votes?

"Inducting them into the campaign certainly will not hurt, but they can't be expected to work a miracle in electoral terms," says political scientist and Congress-watcher D.L. Sheth of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. "For the country as a whole, dynasty is no longer an effective symbol, although it has not wholly outlived its life. The image of the late Indira Gandhi may still carry appeal in remote areas and pockets of low literacy, where rulers are seen as royalty...by reflex, the Congress has reached for its favourite crutch in the absence of a compelling slogan," he adds.

The idea, admit Congress strategists, is to juxtapose the image of vibrant youth against the BJP's gerontocracy, on the premise that innovation outweighs experience as far as young voters are concerned. Burdened with a jurassic brigade of its own, the party hopes the brother-sister duo will be its answer to the BJP's media-savvy second rung. The two flanked the Congress president as she welcomed her late husband's exoneration in the Bofors case last week, eliminating any doubts about the succession. The emotion-charged Kodak moment was an unexpected bonus, the party's image-makers acknowledge. But they don't necessarily want...
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