Circa 2004. The Congress rode to power at the centre riding high on the anti-incumbency wave. The BJP-led NDA had lost and it was time for the Congress to take charge. The whole country’s eyes were glued to 10, Janpath because the speculations were rife that the late Indira Gandhi’s foreign Bahu would become India’s prime minister. The issue of Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin was playing itself out on the streets. But the fact of the matter was the Congress had the number and had Sonia Gandhi wanted to become prime minister, nothing could have stopped her.
But in a dramatic move befitting a Greek tragedy, she announced that her “inner voice” had asked her to stay away from the trappings of power, that she would like to heed to her “inner voice” and hence she would not take oath as India’s prime minister much to the relief of the entire country.
The rest is history. Sonia Gandhi had outsmarted and outwitted all her opponents. She had not taken oath as India’s prime minister but instead she had installed her puppet as prime minister and kept all the powers within her firmly clenched fist. The latest book by the former PMO advisor Sanjay Baru has spilled the beans on the modus operandi of the Gandhi family when the polling for the 16th Lok Sabha election is underway.
Circa 2014. Rahul Gandhi’s leadership lacks that oomph factor. He has failed to galvanise his party’s rank and file to rise up in arms to counter the Modi wave. As a result, the Congress is headed towards its worst ever defeat in the on-going 16th Lok Sabha election. The Congress is looking for some quick fix solutions to salvage its pride. It has diagnosed the ills that plague the party but it wants to resort to the symptomatic relief instead of the permanent cure.
Though the Gandhi surname has run its course and the young Gandhis are no longer able to attract voters, there are murmurs and rumours emanating from the Congress’ camp that Priyanka Gandhi was ready to take on the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from Varanasi.
Would Priyanka Gandhi’s entry into the electoral politics have made any difference to its party’s electoral fortunes? Narendra Modi has flummoxed the Congress’ think tank and it finds itself on the back-foot against the Modi tsunami. Priyanka Gandhi has in the past campaigned for her party, mother and her sibling Rahul Gandhi but she has not fought any elections. Though it is too late now for Priyanka Gandhi to don her saviour’s hat to lift the Congress out of gloom and doom, Priyanka Gandhi has again set the alarm bells ringing by referring to her “inner voice”.
Priyanka Gandhi will take a call to contest the elections when she feels like contesting them from within. She has cleverly paraphrased inner voice as feelings from within. The Indian voter has all the reasons to be worried about when Priyanka Gandhi talks about paying attention to her feelings from within. As we have seen in the past decade that Sonia Gandhi’s inner voice has brought untold miseries and economic doom upon the country while she wielded enormous power over the PMO without any responsibilities.
The country must not allow the same thing to happen as far as Priyanka Gandhi is concerned. The Gandhi family’s thirst for power will never get quenched. But it wants power without any responsibilities. It has positioned itself as an extra constitutional authority that does not augur well for the Indian democracy and its far reaching repercussions are there for all to see.
That said, Narendra Modi is an outsider to Lutyens Delhi who is threatening to challenge the status quo after the election results are announced. Hopefully Priyanka Gandhi’s feelings from within will have no role to play this time around. But even in 2019 the Indian voters must remember to reject the inner voices and feelings from within of sanctimonious leaders hook, line and sinker. For, that is extremely necessary to keep our democracy vibrant, functioning and effective.