As part of a strategy to counter poaching of its leaders by Trinamool Congress, the Congress is planning to take on Mamata Banerjee by pitting Priyanka Gandhi against her.
The Congress plan is to use ‘woman power’ against the Bengal tigress. It came rather as a surprise when Priyanka Gandhi Vadra turned up in Goa and interacted with women ahead of the state polls. But this was no off-the-cuff visit. It’s part of a calibrated plan to counter another woman, Mamata Banerjee, who is showing no reluctance in spreading her wings, even poaching from her ‘good friend’ Sharad Pawar. Churchill Alemao, the lone NCP MLA in Goa, just joined the TMC.
The Congress is aware that with a poor electoral record it may not be able to engage in a verbal duel with the TMC. It’s also aware that Mamata’s nephew and Trinamool leader Abhishek Banerjee has a point that the Congress is weak.
But the Congress hopes to put forward its most aggressive face opposite Mamata Banerjee. Sources say the plan is to use Priyanka in all those areas where Mamata Banerjee sets foot. Not just Goa, but in Tripura, Haryana, Meghalaya, Assam, and other states where TMC shows interest, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be unleashed. Interestingly Priyanka’s ‘women’s manifesto’ in UP has been followed by a scheme for the women of Goa. It’s clear that she is being positioned as someone who will fight for women’s empowerment in the country. The Congress hopes that with women voters emerging as decisive in polls, Priyanka could be a powerful weapon. In 2004, it was a woman, Sonia Gandhi, who had catapulted the Congress to power.
It’s also a fact that Mamata Banerjee uses her woman quotient to push her case. In the April-May Bengal polls, an animation film showing Manata as a lone woman who was taking on the men had gained traction and resonated with women voters. The Congress hopes Priyanka’s fierce pro-women image would work as an X factor in her party’s favour. Not surprisingly, posters, short films, etc, are being prepared to showcase her as Durga who took on the evil like in Hathras and Lakhimpur.
But a top TMC source was dismissive of the Priyanka factor. “This is a democratic country. Anybody can campaign anywhere. That’s not an issue,” the leader said. “But who are we talking about? A three-term CM, seven-term MP, four-time union minister, decades of struggle, self-made woman. Versus?”
Significantly, in private Mamata Banerjee has frequently said that Priyanka, and not her brother Rahul Gandhi, is the better politician who could fight the BJP. And now the Congress is using a woman to counter another woman who in many ways is turning out to be the party’s biggest challenger.
With inputs from News18