The Congress may or may not benefit from the high drama that unfolded since the wee hours of Monday over the Lakhimpur incident, but the party’s General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has undoubtedly scored brownie points for herself.
From one who was referred to as a ‘political tourist’ and a ‘Twitter leader’, Priyanka Gandhi has proved that there is more to her than just a frivolous political leader that her rivals like to believe she is.
When Priyanka was stopped from leaving for Lakhimpur in the wee hours of Monday, she set out of her house on foot and before bewildered cops on duty could realise what was happening, she got into a waiting car and sped off towards Lakhimpur.
Those in power panicked and she was stopped at Sitapur, just ahead of Lakhimpur.
As videos of her spat with the cops went viral on Monday morning, her political adversaries insisted that a drama would soon peter out. Many in the Congress also believed that she would return soon – like the leaders in other parties had done.
By insisting to move towards Lakhimpur, Priyanka Gandhi almost forced the state government to confine her to the PAC guest house.
As the hours of detention rolled by, she emerged into a leader with conviction – certainly not one of those who court arrest for photo opportunities and do not go beyond giving bytes to the media.
A veteran Congress leader, otherwise known for his disdain for Priyanka Gandhi, now grudgingly admits, “She is proving herself as a strong leader. If she takes charge of affairs in the party in a similar manner, without relying on her coterie, the Congress has hopes for revival.”
Another veteran expelled leader said, “If she plays her cards well, this could well be her ‘Belchi’ moment – the moment that catapulted late Indira Gandhi back to power after Emergency. As of now, it is Priyanka who has gained but not the Congress which is just flapping its wings.”
That the party has somehow failed to support Priyanka Gandhi’s initiative is evident.
Hundreds of people, who are gathering outside the PAC guest house that has now been notified as a jail, are doing so on their own. They are taking out candle marches, singing bhajans and raising slogans.
The Congress in Uttar Pradesh lacks leadership and UPCC President Ajay Kumar Lallu does not command the respect that he should have.
As a Congress MLA put it, “Priyanka, in two days, has knocked the state government and even though the party does not offer much resistance, she has rattled those in power.”
Party workers are happy that they have found a true leader in Priyanka Gandhi and if she plans her moves well, she could even bring the Congress back into the reckoning one day.