Will Priyanka Gandhi add novelty to 2014 polls?

With just a few days left for Assembly elections in five crucial states, the country is witnessing hectic political activity with attempts by all major players to woo voters. While the BJP leadership has rallied behind its PM candidate Narendra Modi, arch-rival Congress is also leaving no stones unturned to ensure its victory in the coming state polls, billed as the semi-final ahead of the 2014 electoral battle.

The latest rumours about Priyanka Gandhi assuming a greater role in the 2014 General Elections has added a fresh twist to the ongoing high-pitched electoral battle between country`s two biggest political parties.

Though the Congress has downplayed speculations about Priyanka, it could not be a mere coincidence that rumours about Sonia Gandhi`s daughter, seen by many as reminiscent of her grandmother and India`s former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi`s, have come at a time when the party badly needs a saviour.

This raises a pertinent question - will Congress eventually use Priyanka, its last and most-preserved trump card, in the big game of 2014? What is of even bigger concern to all of us is - will the ``Priyanka factor`` make any difference in the outcome of 2014 polls?

Can Priyanka really serve the purpose for Congress and neutralise Narendra Modi, a formidable opponent, who has been unstoppable despite his image of being a highly polarising figure and the 2002 Godhra riots taint.

Though Congress, at the moment, remains divided on the issue of using Priyanka as the party`s star campaigner in the coming elections, it has surely been able gauge people`s mood after the media floated her name and there were mixed reactions to the news.

Adding to speculation was a resolution passed by Allahabad Congress committee asking Priyanka to contest elections from Phulpur, which was Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s constituency. However, the Congress took disciplinary action against its Allahabad unit office bearers for showing Sonia Gandhi as ill in party campaign posters while expressing their support for Priyanka.

The resolution passed by the Allahabad unit is suggestive of a growing demand that Priyanka should assume a larger role in the party`s affairs. Till sometimes back Priyanka was largely seen as a natural heir to the Gandhi dynasty and someone who had the potential to become the prime minister one day.

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi took the baton after he took a plunge into active politics and Priyanka declared her desire to stay away. Rahul Gandhi`s regular flip-flops on important occasions have earned him a sobriquet of a "reluctant politician" and he has also inarguably failed to revive his party`s fortune despite aggressively campaigning in several states in the recent past.

So, if the Congress decides to utilise her services, it would give credence to popular perception that Priyanka could have a considerable impact. The growing clamour for Priyanka also seems the need of the hour considering that corruption and scam-hit Congress’ prospects look dim this time.

But can she really compete with BJP`s hard-boiled politician like Narendra Modi, whose rise has been phenomenal despite strong opposition from within his party and criticism over the communal riots in his state.

Priyanka is a charmer for sure and with age by her side, she could easily connect with women and youth, which currently worships Modi as its role model. She is more media savvy and an effective communicator than most of Congress’ big guns. Her tough and no-nonsense attitude can further work in her favour.

However, though she had campaigned hard for her party in Amethi and Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, she could not win enough seats for her party. Nonetheless, she has managed to retain her appeal and charisma by keeping herself out of the spotlight for most of the time.

The corruption allegations against her husband Robert Vadra over his dubious land deals with real state major DLF may act as a spanner in the wheel, but she could still turn the tables for Congress. For a party, which has so badly banked on the Gandhi surname for its survival, bringing Priyanka into the battlefield could add a novelty factor to the 2014 political game.

So no doubt, Congress could eventually consider pushing Priyanka to the battlefront if Modi magic fails in five states, which will go to polls this year. The BJP, too, is aware of Priyanka`s mesmerising effect on the voters and that`s why it has reacted by saying "a party which believes in dynastic policies is again talking about another Gandhi".

So far popular slogans like `Indira lao desh bachao`, and `bring Sonia, save Congress` have done wonders for Congress. What remains to be seen is if the Grand Old Party decides to adopt a new slogan "bring Priyanka, save the nation" to revive its chances in the upcoming polls.