BACK in January of 2013 I suggested in a write-up that the Congress should make Priyanka Gandhi Vadra the prime minister-in-waiting by getting her into the Rajya Sabha (India’s House of Lords) while Rahul could take over his mom’s Sonia Gandhi’s position as president of the Congress Party. Sonia could remain the real boss behind the scenes.
I noted back then that Rahul had proved to be an utter failure and what the Congress Party desperately needed was a charismatic figure like Priyanka who bears quite a resemblance to her grandmother Indira Gandhi.
I also noted that I could understand Sonia’s predicament in projecting her daughter as the next prime minister, but that Rahul should realize the reality of the situation himself and urge his mother to do so.
Well now it’s even more obvious that the Congress MUST dump Rahul who proved to be a terribly weak personality while Priyanka won admiration for the way she hit back at BJP leader Narendra Modi during the election campaign, mocking him and providing a sliver of hope to the beleaguered Congress Party.
I see the same defiance in her that I saw while covering Indira Gandhi shortly after she had suffered a humiliating defeat in 1977 just after the hated Emergency Rule. I accompanied her to a resettlement colony (see photo) in an open jeep in the rain and I was blown away at the reception she received from the masses. They even addressed her as the prime minister!
When I wrote about it, many fellow journalists in New Delhi contacted me to verify if what I had written was really true since I had just started out in journalism. I was actually sent to accompany her because no senior reporter wanted to be with her as they took it for granted that her political career was over for good!
Indeed, nobody wanted to face the reality and even my own report was heavily edited by the National Herald (that was controlled by the Nehru-Gandhi family) where I was working at the time.
I still remember how stunned even she herself appeared. I even suggested to her that she should organize more such visits and she agreed.
That was the start of a spectacular comeback that she mounted and unnerved the then coalition government that made the blunder of arresting her. That only led to her being portrayed as a martyr. She won a huge majority in the 1980 election and I covered that election as a reporter with the Times of India.
PRIYANKA, I believe, has that same personality and defiance to revive the demoralized Congress Party once again.
Sonia Gandhi would really be one stupid woman (to put it very bluntly) if she does not replace Rahul with Priyanka as soon as possible!
BY RATTAN MALL
(RATTAN MALL worked at The Times of India in New Delhi as reporter and special correspondent from 1979 to 1990 and was one of the best known reporters in the country at the time. Among the events he covered were the assassination of then-prime minister Indira Gandhi and the anti- Sikh riots in Delhi. He came to Canada in 1990)