BJP mounts attack on Priyanka, Vadra

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on April 25, 2014

Promises to keep Priyanka Gandhi Vadra interacts with women while campaigning for Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli on Friday.   -  PTI

Campaign heats up in Lucknow ahead of the April 30 polling

In the middle of a heightened election campaign on Friday, the principal Opposition party mounted a direct attack on Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka and her husband Robert Vadra for misusing political power to promote his business empire.

The BJP fielded its chief spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad in Lucknow to question whether Priyanka Gandhi’s politics is “confined to protecting her husband.” In Lucknow, campaigning is at its peak for the seventh round of polling to be held on April 30.

Speaking to Business Line from Lucknow, Prasad said: “Priyanka Gandhi’s heightened political activism reveals a number of issues. One, that Rahul Gandhi is a failure. Second, that the great hope of the Congress, namely Priyanka Gandhi, is chiefly concerned only with the interests of her husband. She is active in politics only because of her husband. Most importantly, the vast empire her husband has created out of nothing in the last ten years is a clear instance of crony capitalism. You could call it insider trading.”

May backfire

This is the first time the BJP has mounted such a personalised campaign against the Congress President’s daughter.

Although the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi has been taking swipes at the Congress President and her “extended family” in his election rallies and senior leader Arun Jaitley making a few comments about Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in his blog, the party has so far desisted from officially targeting the Gandhis.

The reasons for this reticence are not rooted in routine political courtesies, but in fears of a personalised campaign rebounding in the way Sonia Gandhi’s “foreign origin” debate backfired on the BJP. The Congress President gained popular sympathy while the BJP’s offensive, especially leader Sushma Swaraj’s declaration to “shave her head” if Sonia became PM in 2004, were largely perceived as tasteless.

But with the renewed media focus on Vadra after a detailed article in the Wall Street Journal recently, the BJP clearly feels time is ripe for the Gandhis to be targeted. Priyanka’s magnified attacks on the BJP, especially Narendra Modi, have contributed to the BJP retorting in kind.

The Congress is dismayed with the exchange currently taking place between Priyanka and the BJP. Although very few among the senior leaders in the Congress are in a position to caution the Gandhis, senior strategists felt Priyanka could have left the job of countering the BJP’s attacks on Vadra to junior spokespersons in the party. “This could have been avoided,” said a senior Congress leader. “There are others in the party who could have dealt with the BJP.”

Published on April 25, 2014

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