It seems a little too early to say anything.
The filing of nomination papers for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections started on January 21 and even the most inactive of our so called politicians got a shot of adrenaline and either were lobbying to get a ticket or were busy going through a strategy session of their political party to either secure a majority for their party or get enough seats to get the status of a potential and formidable '˜Dulha' who would be cultivated and cajoled by other parties for an alliance.
The Uttar Pradesh legislative assembly election is due to be held over seven phases in 2012 after the five-year term of the incumbent government expires following an election in 2007. The incumbent chief minister is Mayawati, whose Bahujan Samaj Party previously won an absolute majority of seats. Uttar Pradesh is the largest province in India, in terms of both population and landmass, despite a bifurcation to create Uttaranchal. It is also considered politically important because of the number of seats it returns to the Lok Sabha (80) and as including the constituencies of such nationally notable figures as Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Varun Gandhi and Maneka Gandhi of the Nehru-Gandhi family dynasty. The legislative assembly has 403 seats, 206 of which were won by the BSP in the previous election.
While all the political parties are making all kinds of promises to the voters to garner their votes and are also busy submitting the names of their star campaigners to the Election Commission, the election assumed more significance when Priyanka Gandhi said on Tuesday that 'I will campaign in UP if Rahul wants me to, I will do anything for my brother'. Priyanka's remark, repeated several times during her meeting with reporters, was welcomed by the Congress rank and file, with UPCC election committee chief Raj Babbar, also an MP from Firozabad, saying, "Candidates are keen to use her presence as their lucky charm. Demands (for her to campaign) are coming in from all quarters." He added, "I am planning to send a formal request to the UPCC president. But the ultimate decision will be taken by the top leadership."
There is no doubt that this kind of announcement by Priyanka Gandhi was not just an off the cuff casual statement. It was part of a very well calculated strategy...nothing happens in the Congress party without giving it a very serious thought...even the irresponsible utterances by Digvijay Singh is very well planned. Priyanka Gandhi had in the past restricted her political activities to Rai Bareli and Amethi parliamentary constituencies...represented by her mother and brother. Her words cannot but be part of a calibrated strategy that has been put into motion for UP.
I was a little surprised with this announcement at this time. I had no doubts in my mind that she will take the plunge in the 2014 parliamentary elections. She is the inevitable need of the Congress party. The party's image and reputation has been blackened, tarnished and maligned by 2G, CWG and so many other scams. It is hard to say if the party is chasing scams or the scams are chasing the Congress party. They feel the need to do something to deflect the attention from the scams to the election issues and they have tried everything in the past including hectic campaigning by Rahul Gandhi and it has not worked. The Congress party contested all the 243 assembly seats in Bihar in 2010 and in spite of Rahul Gandhi's hectic campaigning, the party won only 4 seats. It seems that Sonia Gandhi has finally realized that Rahul Gandhi does not have what it takes to lead the party. I feel that Rahul Gandhi is more like Abhishek Bachchan, who gives movies after movies but cannot become a star.
Even though I am very much against dynasty politics, I also believe in the right of every individual to take part in a democracy. We should not take this right away because they happen to be the son or daughter of a particular person. I strongly believe that the responsibility of getting into politics for people with a very strong name recognition is with that person and not with the electorate. There is a very big number of voters in our country who are not educated and are not able to understand the details of the issues and the policies. It is very easy for them to get swayed by a big and famous name like Gandhi. It is totally incumbent upon the candidates to ask themselves some basic questions:
Am I ready for public service?
If I am ready for public service, is getting into politics the right way to do it?
Am I educated and intelligent enough to understand the issues?
Can I deliver what the electorate expects of me?
If the answer to these questions is a positive yes, they should take the plunge into politics. If not, they should wait until all the answers becomes a yes. If the son or daughter of an actor becomes an actor, it does not affect the national politics. If a politicians son or daughter does a bad job, it affects the national polity. The name recognition can get them votes but the votes could not translate into parliamentary talent.
I do not have any problems with Priyanka Gandhi being a part of the mainstream Indian politics, whatsoever, I only want her to be totally ready. Experimenting with power is a dangerous thing for the country. She should depend on people who are intelligent and pragmatic and not surround herself with chamchas and sycophants. She should work very hard as Priyanka and try to earn the confidence and respect of the Indian people and not just thrust herself upon them. She should not do just politics, she should try to do the right thing.