New Delhi, Jan 23 (IANS) Priyanka Gandhi’s official entry into politics has come as a “shocker” for the BJP even as it was preparing to counter the newly formed alliance of the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh.
Although party leaders officially dismissed her appointment as a “family matter” which would not impact the BJP’s fortune especially in Uttar Pradesh, they admit privately that the road ahead for the party in the most populous state will not be as easy as it was in 2014.
Soon after Priyanka Gandhi’s appointment, the BJP leadership tried to dismiss the development as “a family matter” of the grand old party.
The first attack came from its spokesperson Sambit Patra who said this was expected from a party that practices dynasty politics and said her formal entry into politics was an admission by the party that Rahul Gandhi had “failed” in providing leadership.
Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and his cabinet colleague J.P. Nadda, who is the BJP’s election in-charge in Uttar Pradesh, also called it a part of “dynasty politics”.
Prasad conveyed his good wishes to Priyanka Gandhi while taking a dig at the Congress and calling her appointment a “family concern”.
Nadda too spoke about “dynasty politics”, saying: “Everyone knows how this household company works.”
But a senior party leader who did not wish to be identified told IANS that Priyanka Gandhi would definitely be a crowd puller but it needed to be seen how she converts them into votes.
“She has her own appeal. She is a look-alike of Indira Gandhi and has all the ability of a crowd puller,” he said.
Asked about her impact in Uttar Pradesh, he said: “It needs to be seen. But ‘asar to padega hi’ (It will have an impact).”
A party office bearer added that the decision to ask Priyanka Gandhi to oversee eastern Uttar Pradesh was unexpected.
“The Congress had been uprooted from this area and the Congress President has taken a big risk by giving her charge of East Uttar Pradesh. This is shocking,” he said.
Another party office bearer said the BJP was yet to devise a strategy to counter the SP-BSP alliance when the Priyanka factor had come into play.
“We will have to draw a new strategy,” he said.
However, some party insiders feel that Priyanka Gandhi’s task will not be easy because she will have to start from ground zero.
The area she has been assigned is a bastion of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency Varanasi.
The BJP won 71 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh in 2014 while an ally, Apana Dal, got two seats. After the SP-BSP alliance was announced, many BJP leaders openly admitted that the road ahead would not be that easy in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
With Priyanka Gandhi joining the battle, BJP leaders are cautious even in attacking her.
(Brajendra Nath Singh can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)