What shouts Im Rahul Gandhi Fan

Priyanka Gandhi - the newcomer ventilates India's ailing clan

The granddaughter of the murdered Prime Minister Indira Gandhi awakens feelings of nostalgia. But there is also criticism of the dynastic succession.

It is urgent. The parade of bulky off-road vehicles, small trucks fully loaded with police officers and an ambulance at the end races through the hinterland of Uttar Pradesh. When the motorcade suddenly stops, the TV journalists run from the vehicles in the back to capture at least a few seconds of footage with Priyanka Gandhi Varda. The stop at a market square, the fifth within an hour, only takes a few minutes. Two bodyguards open the door of Gandhi's vehicle. Greetings with a flower garland and rose petals. Shaking hands. Selfies. Then the bodyguards pave the way back to the off-road vehicle with heavy use of force by the politician. An old man with a stringy beard and few teeth is almost pushed to the ground by the crowd.

She can do what her brother lacks

The 47-year-old Priyanka Gandhi, great-granddaughter of the first Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, granddaughter of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was shot in 1984, daughter of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was murdered seven years later and sister of opposition leader Rahul Gandhi, is the new face of India's most famous political dynasty. There is no family relationship with the father of the independence movement, Mahatma Gandhi.

Nehru Gandhi family tree

Since independence in 1947, a single family has largely determined the fate of India.

While Priyanka served her relatives in previous election campaigns, she is now on the front lines for votes for the Congress Party. We will only know shortly before the start of the election whether she is running for a member of parliament. When her brother surprised Delhi's political establishment in January with the news that Priyanka was officially entering politics, he appointed her “General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East”. Contrary to what the bulky title suggests, she thus holds an important office. With more than 200 million inhabitants, Uttar Pradesh is India's most populous state. But above all: In the east of Uttar Pradesh is Modi's constituency - Varanasi, the holy city on the Ganges. It is a declaration of war on the incumbent head of government.

On her tour through Uttar Pradesh, the mother of two demonstrates what she is better at than her brother: dealing naturally with the people. Wrapped in a beige-red sari, she patiently listens to the worries of a peasant woman this morning, later she exchanges a few words with the head of a Koran school - and seems relaxed and genuinely interested. Rahul often looks like he's straight out of the polo club. He seems to maintain contact with the electorate because it is part of it.

While her brother tends to verbal hip shots against Modi, Priyanka Gandhi taunts the head of government with a fine blade. Alluding to a remark by Modi that if the Gandhi clan were to return to power the hostile neighboring country would cheer, she called out to her supporters: "He was in Pakistan for Briyani dinner." Modi made a flying visit to Lahore in 2015; political rapprochement with Pakistan was just a flash in the pan. Gandhi later mocks the globetrotter, who jets from Japan to America but doesn't have time to visit the poor in his constituency. She means modes.

Signal to the Hindu base

Priyanka Gandhi, married to a businessman who has been criticized for money laundering allegations and dubious land deals, demonstrates solidarity with the people during the election campaign. She was traveling along the Ganges on a boat. And she wanted, had it not been forbidden by the secret service for security reasons, to take the train, the means of transport for the masses. The Congress Party, which almost disappeared into insignificance in the last election in 2014, positions itself as an advocate of the have-nots and religious minorities.

Priyanka Gandhi starts her marathon this Friday in Rae Bareli, the constituency of her mother Sonia, whose health is weakened. In the afternoon, the campaign group heads for Ayodhya. Here, a quarter of a century ago, radical Hindus destroyed a mosque that was built at the alleged birthplace of the Hindu deity Ram. It is true that she does not pray at this point. Nonetheless, their visit to Ayodhya signals that the Congress Party is also a Hindu party and not an outsider party.

Reluctant family members

Priyanka Gandhi's external resemblance to the powerful Prime Minister Indira Gandhi makes many feel nostalgic. Her supporters ignore the fact that she ruled under martial law for two years. But for the political opponents, Priyanka Gandhi is further evidence of the nepotism in India's oldest party. This accusation is difficult to contradict, although other parties in India also pass on political power from one generation to the next. Rahul Gandhi took up the post of chief after a pseudo-democratic election process without competitors. However, he gained recognition in autumn 2018 when the Congress Party brought about a change of power in three states. Priyanka, who many observers trust more than her brother, also hesitated until she took on a political role.

There is no sign of any doubts this afternoon. The longer the tour of Uttar Pradesh, the more people cheer Priyanka Gandhi. Poster with Priyanka here, flags with the other Gandhis there. But the deadline for the roadshow is overloaded. In one place there is not enough time to even send the “General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East” onto the stage. After a short stop, the convoy rushes on. Supporters with long faces are left on the plastic chairs.