Last assembly elections in the heartland of Uttar Pradesh, media tirelessly campaigned for Rahul Gandhi. The party was speculated to be on the top of a wave. Rahul had supposedly revived the party and we came to know of it on a day to day basis even in faraway Karnataka. I am sure much of the other parts of the English language reading, Wren and Martin chomping audiences were bought into the subaltern Rahul Gandhi hawa (as described by someone who is now busy heading another political party - at that time, he was firmly in the Rahul camp). But sadly, these English speaking, adverb knowing audiences from Delhi to Kochi and Ahmedabad to Kolkata did not vote in the Uttar Pradesh elections. And the Samajwadi Party swept into power.
Now, this Parliamentary election, there is a blistering Narendra Modi campaign. This comes on the heels of 10 years of poor governance, multitude of scams, skyrocketing inflation, acidic corruption, inept leadership, drying up of investment, loss of face in the international arena among other things. India looks up to a leader - a leader who is uncorrupt - who delivers - action, not acts. A leader who believes in the constitution of India - unlike the current ones (both Mr. Happy Mind Lion and Ms. Inner Voice) who pay lip service to it while dividing India and Indians relentlessly.
Be that as it may, incredibly, the Congress in its campaign has nothing to offer about development - despite having ruled the country for a largish part of the 60 years of Indian independence or in its last avatar of 10 years where it ruled and surfed a wave provided by the previous NDA government. That NDA government built more highways than all other previous and post Congress tenures - among other things. And more than that, Congress is unable to contest the development work done in one state - Gujarat - where Narendra Modi has made the existing system deliver for the last 14 odd years.
And after all this, they have little to say. Leaders beleaguered by scams, with no credibility, no statistics for show for development. And a tired nation - a nation fed up with this government. And after all this, what do they get to campaign?
Eureka, Priyanka Vadra - the sister of Rahul Gandhi - who has been as active in politics as a polar bear in hibernation. And she enters the campaign - where? In two constituencies - the pocketboroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareilly - thats it. And are these constituencies the model of development? Ahem, visit it yourself and believe it yourself - (I have visited the place myself, btw) - but if the family could showcase two constituences if not the whole country, these constituences are a miserable failure. The constituencies lag in basic HDI numbers also.
But leave that aside. Think about it. For all their claims, who do they get to campaign? Priyanka? Who is paradropped into Amethi and Rae Bareilly and she, pokes, holes in, hold your breath - Gujarats development. If this not a ROFLMAO moment, I do not what is. Standing in a place with power cuts every day, she, herself with the administrative experience of a termite, has the gall to say that Gujarat is not developed - Gujarat with 24 hours electricity, scorching agricultural growth and 100% girl enrolment in school among other things. She also has the guts to say, things about - land acquisition. Notwithstanding the fact that a certain Mr.Vadra - her husband is known for acquiring land at extremely crony politician friendly prices - in many Congress ruled states. So much so that a new state called Vadra Pradesh could be created anytime soon cutting across Delhi, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan.
If this is not a failure of leadership in Congress circles, I dont know what is. No other big leader. Not the Prime Minister. Not the Home Minister. Not Defence. But the sister of Rahul Gandhi - who is not even an MP comes into campaign. A fabulous sign of Congress bench strength I must say or servility to the dynasty - take your pick.
Now all of this is fine. It is really, their prerogative. If Manmohans brother can join the BJP and Raj and Udhav Thackeray can form separate parties - it is really their family headache.
But the media - like the crowd in The Emperors New clothes is singing along. They are falling over each other to create the euphoria over Priyanka to the same Wren and Martin chomping, English diction perfecting, non voting crowd. Exactly like they did for the UP assembly. And of course, she comes in with the deadweight of Vadra - landlord at best - who has made money through his connections. BJP has torn into it calling it the RSVP model using an article on WSJ, no less ( quoting WSJ since our media has predictably stayed away). Apart from the breathless reporting, it turns out that the Madam who the media once told us looks like Indira Gandhi (I can only remember Kim Jong Un and North Korea at this point)
This Priyanka acting like Indira. Remind me again why we laugh at North Korea and Kim Jong UnWhy are not telling the emperor that he, really, has no clothes? Beats me
— Neelakantan (@ecophilo) April 17, 2014
Post Script: I had wondered here, years ago, "I still wonder which genius came up with the idea of equating Priyanka Vadra with Indira Gandhi – instead of helping her carve out her own brand of leadership".
I think I have the answer now. Because she does not have her own brand. As simple as that.