Singed by the palpable support for BJP and its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi as the Lok Sabha elections enter their final stages, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has provided a boost for the Congress cadre which hitherto was banking on Rahul Gandhi to counter the saffron surge. Her presence on the campaign trail, though limited to the seats of her brother and mother, has changed the dynamics of the battle. So much so that in the past week, she, and not Rahul, has been hogging the limelight and riding the air waves.
It all started when Congress candidate Ajay Rai from Varanasi said Priyanka had persuaded him to take on Modi and that she would guide him whenever needed. Though she has not campaigned in Varanasi, Priyanka has done enough to rattle the BJP. Well aware of the fact that an entourage of mediapersons is following her, Priyanka is speaking to the entire country from Rae Bareli and Amethi.
First, she raked up the snoopgate controversy involving Modi. Like an astute politician, Priyanka targeted Modi for “snooping on a woman” and linked it to security of women. “You talk of women’s empowerment, you should stop tapping our phones. There is one leader who wrongs women. Be wary of him,” she told a group of villagers, mostly women, in Chadrai village of Unchahar block in Rae Bareli.
Then she tore into Modi’s development model in Gujarat. She charged that the Gujarat Chief Minister gives away land to ‘friends’ at throwaway prices. “People possess an unmatched understanding and they knew about Modi’s Gujarat model of development ‘where you (Modi) gave thousands of acres of land to your friends’.” A charge the BJP has vehemently denied. But Priyanka was stating what has for long been a murmur in political circles.
Nonetheless, it turned out to be the Achilles’ heel for Modi. To counter this, the BJP released a video showing controversial land deals of Priyanka’s husband Robert Vadra. The BJP claimed that Vadra was the beneficiary of Congress rule in Haryana and Rajasthan where he acquired lands through dubious means.
Priyanka hit back at the BJP, this time claiming they seemed baffled and were running around like rats. “I knew that they will repeat their bunch of lies. There is nothing new in it but let them say whatever they want to. I am not afraid of anyone and will continue to speak against their negative, destructive and shameful politics,” said Priyanka.
This was for the first time that she broke her silence on allegations against her husband. Putting up an emotional defence for Vadra, Priyanka said, “They humiliate my family, they humiliate my husband. I feel sad… I have learnt from Indiraji… The more they insult, more is my determination to fight back… The truth will come out.”
In the last ten days, a new battleline has been drawn – Priyanka vs Modi. A war of words that is going to get shrill by the day. For now, it seems Priyanka has provided the boost that the Congress lacked so far to counter Modi.