Global Times special correspondent in India: Yuan Jirong; Global Times special correspondent: Ren Zhong
The Indian National Congress Party announced on January 22 that it had formed an alliance with the largest political party of India’s Uttar Pradesh state— the Samajwadi Party (SP). And Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s daughter, Priyanka Gandhi, has played an important role in it. There are Indian media saying that this marks Priyanka’s “political launch”, and even the Congress party veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad also is very grateful to Priyanka for playing an important role in the “tricky negotiations” with the SP.
At present, India is conducting “five state elections”. These five states are comparatively larger states of India, and the election course would have a bearing on the 2019 general elections. Among them, Uttar Pradesh is of the highest priority. With 200 million people, it has always been the focus of fight between different political parties. So the political alliance between Congress and the SP is crucial.
The Times of India reported on January 23 that this is the first time Priyanka has directly and openly played a leading role, which is of prime importance to Congress Party and the Nehru-Gandhi family. Prior to this, Priyanka’s name was mostly mentioned as managing the back-end operations of the office of her brother—Member of Indian Parliament Rahual Gandhi, and affairs of their constituencies.
The BBC says that the Congress has long relied on the Nehru-Gandhi family, and when they launched Rahul Gandhi against the incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi, it turned out to be a fiasco. Even in Rahul’s own constituency, people’s response to him has been very dull. Some analysts say that compared to the strong leaders of other major parties, Rahul “doesn’t come anywhere near”. Indian historian Ramachandra Guha argues that Rahul was “the first member of the Gandhi family who failed to win broad social respect and he cannot command the respect even of his own party colleagues.” India’s Financial Express says that since Rahul is unable to challenge Modi, sister Priyanka is being pushed to the front by the Congress Party.
“Is the short haired Priyanka India’s Princess Diana?” India’s Business Standard reported that Priyanka was born in New Delhi in 1972. When she was 12 years old, her grandmother Indira Gandhi was assassinated; and when she was 19, father Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated. In the eyes of many Indian people, Priyanka resembles her grandmother, the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi—she has a graceful carriage, is valiant and heroic in bearing; she has quite the styles of a leader and has also won the hearts of the ordinary people. It is said that when Indira Gandhi talked about this little granddaughter, she once had said: “One day, she will make the Indian people forget me.” Indian historian Rizwan Qaiser thinks that Priyanka, unlike Rahul, is “in frequent contact with personages of the upper-strata and is also close to the commoners.”
However, there are also Indian analysts who believe that “gone are those days of family politics,” and now the leaders of all political parties come up fighting from the grass-roots levels. Whether or not Congress can rely on the “daughter of the Gandhi family” to regain the order and discipline of the regime, it is hard to say. ▲