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    OpinionsPriyanka contesting from Wayanad is linked to the Congress strategy on South

    Priyanka contesting from Wayanad is linked to the Congress strategy on South


    By Kalyani Shankar

    Amidst a flurry of speculation and anticipation, the Congress party has made a strategic and significant move by fielding Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi in the by-elections in Wayanad. This seat became available after her brother Rahul Gandhi decided to retain Rae Bareily and step down from the Wayanad, both of which he had won. If successful, it could be a game-changer for Priyanka, her party and Indian . It has sparked excitement and scepticism among the public and political class.


    “I am glad to represent Wayanad and will ensure the people don't feel Rahul Gandhi's absence,” she said when her candidacy was announced. “I chose to run in Wayanad to continue my family's political legacy and the Gandhis' presence in the South. My grandmother, Indira Gandhi, had a strong connection with the people of Wayanad, and I hope to build on that.”


    Rahul and his mother, Sonia, led the Congress party for many years and served as MPs. The upcoming Wayanad elections will be a critical test for Priyanka, as this will be her first litmus test. The entire nation, including the BJP, will closely observe her performance.


    Born into a political family, Priyanka has actively participated in her mother's election campaigns. She also campaigned for her brother when he entered politics in 2004.


    In 2014 and 2019, there were rumours that Priyanka might contest against Narendra Modi from Varanasi. Before the 2024 elections, she stated that the party aimed to avoid fielding three Gandhis to counter the BJP's criticism of dynastic rule.


    The Gandhis changed their mind, seeing the 2024 polls as an excellent opportunity for Congress. They decided it was the perfect time to introduce Priyanka to electoral politics as a Kerala Congress MP. It is a safe seat.


    Priyanka, who resembles her grandmother, Indira Gandhi, has been in the spotlight since entering politics in 2019. She became the general secretary of the Congress party and played a vital role in the party's campaign. Priyanka is credited with nearly doubling Congress's count in the 2024 election and rejuvenating the party.


    In Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi struggled to make an impact. She wasn't held accountable when Congress performed poorly in the 2022 assembly polls under her watch. She had messed up during the Assembly polls. However, her extensive campaigning in Pradesh was credited for the success of the Congress party in the state assembly elections.


    In 2024, Priyanka decided not to run for , focusing on nationwide party campaigning. She held 108 public meetings, participated in roadshows, and campaigned in 16 states and one union territory.


    The decision to contest from Wayanad presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities for Priyanka. On the one hand, she may face attacks from the BJP on the issue of dynasty politics, a hurdle she must navigate with tact and resilience. On the other hand, it gives her a golden opportunity to prove herself and connect with a new constituency, a chance she must seize with determination.


    The Wayanad constituency, located in North Kerala, has a voter base of 1.46 million. It has consistently elected Congress MPs in the past four elections, indicating a solid support for the party. The constituency also enjoys broad support for the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), with Muslims and Christians comprising about 60 per cent of the voters. IUML will back Priyanka.


    If Priyanka wins, all three members of the Gandhi family will be in the Indian Parliament. This could strengthen the family's position within the party but will also invite attacks from opponents.


    In Indian politics, Priyanka's candidacy in Kerala is a strategic move by the Congress party to strengthen its support base in the South, potentially reshaping its regional dynamics.


    The Congress party acknowledges the importance of the South and aims to strengthen its presence there. Rahul will focus on the North, while Priyanka may concentrate on the South. Her potential win could bolster the party's position in the region.


    There is more to it, as Priyanka's husband, Robert Vadra, also wants to join politics. He said Priyanka should be in Parliament before him, and he could follow her at a suitable time.


    The move shields the Congress from criticism for neglecting the South. Priyanka's candidacy from Wayanad is part of the party's mission in the South to leverage anti-incumbency in Kerala for the 2026 assembly polls.


    Priyanka has advantages – she is well-known and has a strong command of Hindi. However, her husband, Robert Vadra, is seen as a liability due to legal issues.


    If elected to Parliament, Priyanka should strive to become a good parliamentarian. Similarly, the two Gandhi siblings must strengthen the organization and return the party to its former glory. Wayanad has been loyal to Rahul and would support Priyanka. (IPA Service)

    The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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