Priyanka Gandhi Vadra charmed Uttar Pradesh
One of the most enduring images from the 2022 election in Uttar Pradesh is of BJP workers enthusiastically shaking hands with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, taking selfies with her and asking her for copies of the Congress manifesto for young people and women. The smiling Secretary General of Congress complied. The surreal image of the Congress leader amidst a sea of BJP flags, caps, saffron scarves and kurtas stood out.
There were other images of her campaigning during a heavy downpour, jogging to the podium, kissing women, and swinging effortlessly out of her SUV window (the door couldn’t be opened due to BJP supporters) and climbing onto the roof to accept their greetings. There was a time when his road show came face to face with a road show by Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary. A smiling Priyanka Gandhi waved and wished them luck.
She eclipsed all the other star activists and as the campaign progressed her speeches became more impactful and cutting edge. Unlike the Prime Minister and Home Minister and other BJP leaders, she did not mock her political rivals. She never used an abusive word for anyone. She didn’t lose her temper even when the media asked her harsh or rude questions. Except perhaps once when a reporter asked him for his reaction to Union Minister Smriti Irani’s remark that the Nehru-Gandhi family had links to terrorists.
She looked exasperated for a moment, pursed her lips. Her jaws hardened and for a moment it looked like she would ask to be kicked out without answering. But after pausing for a moment, she looked the reporter in the eye and replied, “Yes, I have links with terrorists. My father and my grandmother were both killed by terrorists and so, yes, I have links with terrorists”. The journalist stepped back, as if pushed by the vehemence of his voice. Priyanka Gandhi had once again got the better of an awkward moment.
A TV station interviewer, speaking to her by the river in Varanasi, asked her who her rival in UP was, who she was fighting with. The Samajwadi party, the interviewer said, claims it was fighting with the BJP and the latter admitted that its fight was with the SP. So who is she fighting with?