2014 election campaign

The Priyanka buzz: Will a Gandhi take on Narendra Modi in Varanasi?

The final decision on the candidate for Varanasi will be taken by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in consultation with Rahul and Priyanka, party officials say.

Bitiya Priyanka, Har Har Ganga.” This slogan doing the rounds among some members of the Congress in Varanasi is the first audible sign of the buzz that has kept the party leadership occupied for the last few days. A rumour is gaining strength that the Congress may announce a surprise candidate in Varanasi to challenge the Bharatiya Janata Party contender, Narendra Modi. Many suggest that the Congress challenger will be either Priyanka Vadra or Rahul Gandhi.

Publicly though, the top leadership of the Congress is so silent on its candidate for Varanasi that even senior officials seem to be completely clueless about who will be named. “Every day I get several SMSes and calls from senior party leaders and MPs trying to know whether the party would indeed field Priyanaka or Rahul against Modi,” said a general secretary of the Congress on condition of anonymity.

According to party officials, the final decision on the candidate will be taken by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in consultation with Rahul and Priyanka.

At the moment, there are two views in the party. One is that Priyanka should be given a larger role in politics. The other insists that she should not be burdened with extra political work as she is already too occupied managing the elections in Rae Barely and Amethi, constituencies of her mother Sonia Gandhi and brother Rahul Gandhi, respectively.

Yet the buzz is so strong that when Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi said on April 4 that Rajiv Gandhi had spoken to him about his daughter’s political aptitude way back in 1990, rumours spread like wild fire about the possibility of Priyanka entering active politics – and emerging as the party’s candidate to take on Modi. Dwivedi denied that his statement had any larger connotations. “As far as I know her [Priyanka’s] interest in politics started at an early age,” he said. “She was keen to understand political developments and the language of politics from the very start. I even have proof of this but I don’t want to discuss it now. All I’ll say is that Rajiv Gandhi told me something about this in 1990. That’s all for the moment.”

In private conversations, several Congress leaders – even those who are not in favour of fielding Priyanka or Rahul against Modi – argue that such a move would be a game-changer in the elections. They contend that such a decision would have a great bearing not just in Varanasi, but on several constituencies in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where demoralised Congress cadres would get massively energised. Fielding a Gandhi from Varanasi would increase the Congress’s chances of winning at least seven seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh, a party leader said. In addition to Varanasi, these seats are Azamgarh, Ghosi, Chail, Mirzapur, Jaunpur and Machhalishahar.

Narendra Modi is also contesting the Vadodara seat in his home state, Gujarat. His Congress opponent there is another general secretary of the party, Madhusudan Mistry. Mistry has publicly expressed the desire for Priyanka to do a "road show" to help his campaign. Yet others in the party feel Priyanka should be saved for the next election, especially as bringing her out as a wild card at the last minute would be an admission of Rahul's inadequacies. Party advisor Sam Pitroda said in an interview with Business Standard that it was Rahul, the party's vice president, who wants Priyanka to step up her role.

There is also speculation that the two main Uttar Pradesh parties, the Bahujan Samaj and Samajwadi Party, could come around to supporting a Congress candidate in the city to make things tough for Modi. But both parties have already  declared their candidates.

Congress officials said that the decision on Varanasi is likely to be made public by Tuesday.


 
We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Five memes that explain why you need a toothpaste for your payday

That payday smile won’t shine itself.

At the end of the month, every salaried professional experiences a wide range of feelings. First, there’s extreme possessiveness - after spending several days trying to live off whatever little is left from paying bills and all those shopping binges, you’re understandably cranky and unwilling to part with the cash you have.

Giphy
Giphy

Then the week of payday arrives and you can finally breathe a sigh of relief again. As the glorious day comes closer, you can’t contain your excitement.

Giphy
Giphy

And then payday dawns and the world gets to behold an interesting phenomenon - your payday-wala smile. It is instantly recognizable as something different and special - it stretches across your face, from ear to ear and is mirrored on the faces of your colleagues. Soon the excitement wears off and you are at complete peace. You have worked hard, you’ve earned your keep, you are in Zen mode.

Giphy
Giphy

But is there a way to make payday even happier? And make your payday smile last even longer? You may be astonished to learn there is. A way that will make you so much happier – your smile will gradually consume most of your face and need extra grooming. In fact, you might have to consider getting a special toothpaste, the Happier Toothpaste to care for the smile you have on that happier payday.

So how can you get more salary in-hand on your payday? Simple – invest in Equity Linked Savings Schemes or ELSS. These are open-ended equity Mutual Funds, with a 3 year lock-in period, that not only help you save tax but also have potential for wealth creation.

Giphy
Giphy

The icing on the cake is that the dividends from these funds are also tax free. So ELSS means more salary in-hand for you today, more potential growth for you tomorrow! To know more about ELSS and to get your own Happier Toothpaste, click here.

Statutory Details: Axis Mutual Fund has been established as a Trust under the Indian Trusts Act, 1882, sponsored by Axis Bank Ltd. (liability restricted to Rs. 1 Lakh). Trustee: Axis Mutual Fund Trustee Ltd. Investment Manager: Axis Asset Management Co. Ltd. (the AMC). Risk Factors:Axis Bank Ltd. is not liable or responsible for any loss or shortfall resulting from the operation of the scheme.

Mutual Fund Investments are subject to market risks, read all scheme related documents carefully.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Axis Mutual Fund and not by the Scroll editorial team.