NEW DELHI: Imagine a Narendra Modi vs Priyanka Gandhi contest for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. It would have been the mother of all election battles, and would have put everything and everyone else in the shade. It would have electrified the nation and riveted the attention of the world.
Priyanka Gandhi is reliably learned to have been very keen to be the Congress candidate in the holy city. But the party leadership finally decided against fielding her.
Priyanka, who has so far limited her political responsibilities to managing her brother and mother’s Lok Sabha campaigns in Rae Bareli and Amethi, is believed to have made a strong pitch to contest because she felt Modi was “bad for the country” and needed to be “stopped”.
Apart from perhaps tying up Modi in Varanasi and forcing him to curtail his national campaign, Priyanka’s entry would have charged up the rank and file of the Congress at a time when a number of ministers and leaders were reluctant to fight elections of fear of losing (one senior Cabinet member is reported to have feared a rout). The fact that she was willing to place ‘a higher principle’ above a real risk of defeat would have sent out a strong and defiant message to the demoralized troops, and hopefully, the entire electorate, Congress insiders said.
“Even if she’d lost, the results would have been only known after the elections. But it would have come as a huge booster before. It was very courageous of her. That’s something senior Congressmen who’ve run away from contesting didn’t understand,” said a party manager.