Smriti Irani’s latest attack on Priyanka Gandhi only ends up amplifying her importance in UP elections

While Irani's effort to drag Priyanka into a petty political battle may be deemed as petulant behavior, all eyes are currently on Priyanka who is campaigning in Raebareli

Written by Radhika Iyengar | Updated: February 17, 2017 7:16 pm
Congress VP Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at an election rally in Raebareli. (Source: ANI photo) Congress VP Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at an election rally in Raebareli. (Source: ANI photo)

Priyanka Gandhi on Friday chose to counter BJP’s Smriti Irani’s taunt that she won’t campaign in the Gandhi pocket boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli by being with brother Rahul Gandhi during his tour of the constituencies. Irani had earlier initiated a juvenile squabble, insinuating that Priyanka won’t campaign here as she had no answers for those who would ask her questions regarding a slew of Congress’ “unfulfilled promises”.

While Priyanka has allowed her mother and brother to steer the helm of their political empire, she has mostly steered clear of actively participating in politics. During the elections, however, Priyanka has always emerged from the sidelines into the spotlight, campaigning fiercely, rallying support for the party.

WATCH VIDEO | Rahul, Priyanka Address Joint Rally In Rae Bareli, Takes Jibe At PM Modi’s ‘Loan Waiver’ Promise

Unlike the election campaigns in the past, Priyanka’s presence in 2017 has been relatively subtle. Instead, she has been micro-managing the Congress’ campaign in Uttar Pradesh, working tactfully behind-the-scenes by designing the party’s campaign strategy. When the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance was established, the credit had been attributed to her. She has managed to impress party members as well, leading the former Minister of Health and Family Welfare and UP state party in-charge, Ghulam Nabi Azad to acknowledge Priyanka’s resourcefulness. “Priyanka is playing an important role and she knows about all constituencies in the state. Something which even I don’t know”.

To many, Irani’s attack on Priyanka might appear inconsequential, a desperate attempt by Irani perhaps to steer public attention her way. Behind the incessant jibes and rants, however, there is a discernible pattern that suggests a strategy, even though it might be a weak one. It is to dismantle the Congress’ plan of attack – to jostle Priyanka off her focus of being the campaign architect and prod her to retaliate. The intent, one could argue, is to diffuse Priyanka’s – the charismatic and arguably intellectually superior among the Gandhian siblings – attention by dragging her into the idiosyncratic, muddied verbal duels parties are known to orchestrate particularly during the elections.

WATCH VIDEO | This Is How Samajwadi Party Patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav Was Attacked on March 4, 1984

Gandhi has been targeted in the past by BJP as well – invariably amplifying the party’s view of her as a considerable threat. In January 2017, when Congress announced that Priyanka Gandhi would be campaigning for the UP elections, BJP leader Vinay Katiyar passed a misogynist remark, who, while commenting on her physical appearance, wanted it known that Gandhi’s popularity was limited to her good looks. It was an attempt to publicly underestimate her aptitude as a campaigner (http://bit.ly/2ldFOLg).

Irani’s snide take on the Gandhi scion is a tradition of sorts, one that has been honoured by Priyanka in return. They’ve traded vitriolic verbal exchanges that reek in condescension and condemnation. In 2015, in response to an underhanded comment hurled at Priyanka by Irani, the Congress responded with a terse allegation that Irani, then the Union Human Resource Minister, had been unsuccessful at setting up an off-site campus of the Indian Institute of Technology in Amethi. “Why is Smirti Irani not addressing the issues of youth in Amethi, which comes under her department?” Priyanka had shot back then. “She should also tell us why she is not looking into the matter of the IIT.”

 

That day itself, Irani was ready with a response in Midnapore, mocking Priyanka for not being aware of the facts. “Mrs. Vadra has not done her homework. There is an off campus of IIT Allahabad in Amethi. What is astounding is that while the Gandhi family has ruled the bastion for 60 years, they have done absolutely nothing.” Irani, known for her combative nature, took the opportunity to throw in another jab that challenged Rahul Gandhi’s ability to fight his own battles. Irani had pointed out, “Mr. Gandhi is not capable enough to defend his own turf that he needs additional ammunition”.

WATCH VIDEO | Assembly Elections 2017: How Has UP Voted In The Past Explained

Back in 2014, Priyanka Gandhi had refused to acknowledge Irani when she was asked about the BJP member. When a reporter asked Priyanka her views regarding Irani, Priyanka scoffed, “Who?” and broke into laughter. In return, Irani used the murky controversies surrounding Priyanka’s husband, Robert Vadra to hurl a snappish retort, “I am not surprised. If u forget scams done by a family member why wud u remember my name:) (sic)”. There was another verbal battle between the two during the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly elections.

Politics is a tough place, where maneuvering across its tumultuous terrain for a woman can be challenging. But for someone whose entire life has been subject to public scrutiny and the been at the receiving end of the occasional public lampooning, Priyanka Gandhi comes across as a woman who is grounded, armored with a thick skin and equipped to combat anyone. But while Smriti Irani’s effort to drag Priyanka into a petty political battle may be deemed as petulant behavior and exhibits her poor political skills, all eyes are currently on Priyanka Gandhi Vadra right now who is campaigning in Rae Bareli.

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    Ash
    Feb 17, 2017 at 11:18 am
    During her tenure as HRD Minister,a few Directors of IITs resigned due to her abrasive and pushy manner.Just think having to listen to a person with no knowledge or experience.She doesn't have a college degree.
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      Ash
      Feb 17, 2017 at 11:15 am
      Irani given a Minister's post despite having no qualifications or experience.That too an important post as HRD Minister.lt;br/gt;She was a disaster there.
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        Ash
        Feb 17, 2017 at 11:04 am
        Irani given a minister's post inspite of no qualifications or experience.Couldn't BJP find anyone more suitable,or more qualified in their ranks.This is very unfair to the party workers who have given years to the party.Could say she was a lateral entry.lt;br/gt;Party seems to favour the sychophants.
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          Ash
          Feb 17, 2017 at 11:23 am
          Is it possible for Irani to know more than the hi's who have been there for so many years.lt;br/gt;Ridiculous to say that no progress in last 70 years.lt;br/gt;It is unfair to party workers when people who have just joined the party are given minister's post.Unfair to those who have given many years to the party.Coudn't they find someone else within the party.
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            Ajayan
            Feb 17, 2017 at 1:22 pm
            Parttime Politician Rahul and Priyanka..lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Only available during election timelt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Never heard talking about solving people#s problem or taking fightslt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;ONly interested in given sound bytes..lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;They are an et to BJP.. lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;They think Muslims are always vote bank
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              SURESH
              Feb 17, 2017 at 11:44 am
              ASH FAVOUR TO SYCOPHANTS IS THE HISTORY OF CORRUPT CONGRESS PARTY. IN ADDITION ALSO ADD THE WORD HYPOCRITE AND CORRUPTION INDIANS LEARNED FROM CONGRESS .
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                SURESH
                Feb 17, 2017 at 11:51 am
                WHAT IS THE CONTRIBUTION OF FEW DIRECTORS OF IITs TO INDIA [PLEASE HIGHLIGHT] WHO RESIGNED AND WOULD LIKE KNOW THE REASON OF RESIGNATION.
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                  SURESH
                  Feb 17, 2017 at 11:47 am
                  WHAT IS/WAS THE QUALIFICATIONS OF HI FAMILY NAMELY INDIRA HI,RAJIV HI,SONIA HI,RAHUL HITERESTED TO KNOW.
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                    SURESH
                    Feb 17, 2017 at 11:58 am
                    WHAT PROGRESS IN LAST 70 YEARS POVERTY MORE THAN 50%, MORE THAN 50% VILLAGES WITHOUT ELECTRICITY AND ILLITERACY 70% ACCEPTED BY DR.MMS BEDAGI,P CHIDAMBARAM,AND RAHUL BABA. WANTED TO WIN ELECTION ON SUBSIDIZING LPG CYLINDERS FROM 9 TO 12.
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                      Saradha Sankar
                      Feb 17, 2017 at 11:45 am
                      Very ridiculous arguement in favour of Priyanka.what is she? A politician ? Hardly. For her it is not even a hippy because she is not pursuing it regularly. She is just a guest politician. And the media goes gung-ho abou. When will you come out of your intoxication with hi Parivar?
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                        SubbuI
                        Feb 18, 2017 at 7:06 am
                        ARE YOU LIKES ARE SLAVE OF NALAYAK BUTCHER MODI AND CRIMINAL GOON AMIT SHAH? WHAT THEY HAVE DONE 2 3/4 YEARS EXCEPT SLOGANS AND BHASHANS?-GET LOST-GO AND LICK MODI'S
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                          SubbuI
                          Feb 17, 2017 at 5:01 pm
                          SMIRITI IRANI WANTED TO MAKE GUNDA SHAH AND NALAYAK NMODI HAPPY BY CHALLENGING PRIANKA HI . IT MIS FIRED AND WORKED FAVOUR OF CONGRESS. NOW THIS ARROGANT AND INGONARANT LADY MUST KNOW IT IS NOT 2014 .IT IS 2017 AND2019 NOT FAR.
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                            Homer
                            Feb 17, 2017 at 12:36 pm
                            An indira look alike is important to people who hardly even know who Indira was? Ha ha ha! Even though the dynasty and their servants the pressutes try to hide it the people surely know who VADRA is!
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                              Homer
                              Feb 17, 2017 at 12:48 pm
                              Couldn't congress the oldest kleptocracy find anyone other than a dunce drug addict as their PRIME MINISTERIAL candidate?
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                                Homer
                                Feb 17, 2017 at 12:44 pm
                                Maybe like you, thy resigned because they were servants of the looter queen of the kleptocracy called congress?
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                                  Homer
                                  Feb 17, 2017 at 12:43 pm
                                  Ridiculous for even a dynasty creature to ignore the fact that NOTHING was done by the his in 70 years!
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                                    Homer
                                    Feb 17, 2017 at 12:40 pm
                                    She is one of those circus items that Sonia puts on display every time their circus come to town! An Indira look alike they believe attracts votes from those who hardly even know who Indira was! But they sure know who VADRA is!
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                                      Homer
                                      Feb 17, 2017 at 12:33 pm
                                      What importance does priyanka have in UP that words from Smriti would amplify it? Do the pressutes still think that the youth of today are impressed by a Indira look alike? Ha ha ha! They hardly even know who Indira was!!! But they sure know who pappu is, paid entertainment!
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                                        Homer
                                        Feb 17, 2017 at 12:46 pm
                                        Yet dynasty servants would give a PRIME MINISTER's post to a total dimwit just because he is a dynasty scion??
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                                          Sundar BN
                                          Feb 17, 2017 at 3:00 pm
                                          Wasn't the Irani kid supposed to behead herself and lay her rather vacuous head st the feet of one Mayawati ?lt;br/gt;lt;br/gt;Why hasn't that happened yet?
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                                            Champa Bai
                                            Feb 17, 2017 at 5:26 pm
                                            Dont make useless people rockstars........whats Priyanka his contribution to her consuency, to the country, to the society....ZERO............she comes out once in 5 yrs and talks trash...and this toilet paper portrays her as an icon........
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