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Business News/ Politics / Policy/  Priyanka Gandhi seeks bigger role in politics
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Priyanka Gandhi seeks bigger role in politics

A shift from self defence to direct attacks on Narendra Modi is seen as an attempt to take over Congress election campaign

After breaking her silence over corruption allegations on Robert Vadra, Priyanka Gandhi raised the stakes by targeting BJP’s PM nominee Narendra Modi on “snoopgate”. Photo: AFPPremium
After breaking her silence over corruption allegations on Robert Vadra, Priyanka Gandhi raised the stakes by targeting BJP’s PM nominee Narendra Modi on “snoopgate”. Photo: AFP

New Delhi: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday shifted from self-defence to directly targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi over allegations of ordering illegal surveillance of a woman, seemingly seeking centre-stage in the Congress party’s election campaign.

Having broken her silence on charges of graft against her businessman husband Robert Vadra on Tuesday, Gandhi Vadra, campaigning in her mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s constituency Rae Bareli, raised the stakes on Wednesday with a bid to corner Modi on “snoopgate"—claims that the Gujarat chief minister instructed his aide Amit Shah to monitor the movements and tap the phone of a young woman in 2009.

Political observers believe that this is no coincidence and that she is trying to take over the Congress party campaign by giving it a sharper focus by specifically targeting Modi.

N. Bhaskara Rao, a New Delhi-based political analyst, said Gandhi Vadra had used the allegations against her husband as an excuse for taking over the Congress campaign. “Robert Vadra has been made an election issue by Modi and other BJP leaders. She must have felt it was her duty to defend her husband as others in the Congress have not. She has, however, used it as an opportunity to take over the campaign and give it a punch that has been missing," Rao said.

Taking on Modi, Gandhi Vadra who, as of now, does not hold any formal post in the party and is confined to campaigning in the constituencies of her mother and brother Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, warned voters against the concentration of power in any one person.

“If all power is concentrated in the hands of one person, is it a good thing? Or should people have power?" she asked during her campaign in Rae Bareli. Critics accuse the main opposition party of centring its entire campaign ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha election around Modi.

In another meeting, she said: “If you want to empower women, how will you do that? You empower us by listening to phone conversations in closed rooms?"

The Gandhi scion had come under fire for her husband’s alleged involvement in land deal irregularities in Rajasthan and Haryana. While Modi attacked Congress president Sonia Gandhi alleging that her son-in-law has made millions in a short period of time using her political influence, another BJP leader Uma Bharti has warned that Vadra would be put behind bars if the BJP comes into power.

Breaking her silence on the allegations against her husband—the BJP had also raised the matter in Parliament— Gandhi Vadra on Tuesday defended him, saying the truth will prevail. She also asserted that her determination to fight back will get stronger with every attempt to “humiliate" her family.

On Wednesday, she also blamed the BJP for spreading communal hatred. “These elections are about unity and strengthening the identity of India. When you go to vote then think what type of politics you want...the divisive one, which spreads communalism or the one which takes everyone together," she said.

Political observers pointed out that Gandhi Vadra’s rallies, despite being confined to Rae Bareli and Amethi, are fast becoming the highlight of the Congress party’s election campaign as the media has focused on her. Previously, there was speculation that she was keen on taking on a more prominent role in the elections but the party has denied it.

The rumours were fuelled by remarks by Janardhan Dwivedi, a senior party leader who is considered to have a good rapport with the Gandhi family, who said the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had told him about his daughter’s political aptitude way back in 1990.

Defending his party’s attack on Gandhi Vadra, senior BJP leader Arun Jaitley said that while she wants people to refrain from personal attacks, the Congress has been targeting Modi on a variety of issues, including his marital status.

However, he added, “Issues of probity are public issues. They are not personal issues..."

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Published: 23 Apr 2014, 10:49 PM IST
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