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Priyanka Gandhi versus BJP's Communal Politics

Soumitra  Dastidar

Soumitra Dastidar

Sun, 19 May 24

We, who have witnessed the assassination of Mrs. Indira and her son Rajiv Gandhi, could see another side of Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi as well as their political personalities. There's no discussion about Rahul Gandhi today. On some other day, there might be an extensive discussion about Rajiv, Sonia's son. Today, Priyanka would be remaining the focal point.

Indira Gandhi was killed by her bodyguards. The mystery behind her assassination still remains unsolved to this day. Journalist Sagorika Ghose has written a book about Mrs. Gandhi, where some remarkable revelations are made. Even after being shot and left bleeding on the ground, no ambulance was available immediately to rush Mrs. Gandhi to the hospital, despite her being the Prime Minister of the country at that time. When doctors saw bloody Indira Gandhi, with her head resting on Sonia Gandhi's lap in the car, they realized that it was already too late. Reading about the entire incident, it becomes evident that it wasn't just Khalistani extremists behind Mrs. Gandhi's assassination; she had fallen victim to a much larger conspiracy. Since the time of the Bangladesh Liberation War, I've had the feeling that there was a significant infiltration of extreme right ideologies within the Congress party. They could have had a hand in the assassination of Mrs. Indira Gandhi.

I'm writing so much about Priyanka Gandhi because of the intense aggression we're witnessing from today's right-wing rulers towards Rahul and Priyanka. The way they're being attacked in such derogatory language is not against the Congress alone. This aggression resonates with Nehru's ideology, thinking, and philosophy, which aligns with the right-wing ideology. We have grown up in left-wing families, so we've never felt any emotion towards Nehru. But today I understand that Narendra Modi's India is completely different from Nehru's India. Today's India believes in the politics of division. BJP's identity is synonymous with communal politics, aiming not to build the nation but to break the impartial fabric of the country's religion and unity, as enshrined in the constitution. As a result, the European socialism of the Nehru family is an eyesore.

The BJP's ideology, originating from the birth of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925, is fundamentally against pluralistic democracy. It seeks authoritarian, one-party rule. Before or after the partition of the country, there was no major riot where the RSS and the Hindu Mahasabha were not involved.

Since 1947, despite efforts, the former Jan Sangh, now the BJP, has not been able to raise its head in the same way. This organization was obedient to the British rulers. During the struggle for independence, they had no role. Therefore, in today's India, those whose families had a special role are rejected by the right-wing parties. Otherwise, the Gandhi family will look brighter next to their faded past. That's why BJP leaders, in their election rallies, have been using extremely derogatory language against figures ranging from deceased Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi to Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka. In this country, political falsehoods and inappropriate language undoubtedly originated under the BJP's influence.

In front of Indira Gandhi's lifeless body, the grieving faces of young Rahul and Priyanka are never forgotten. When their father Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated, both of them had grown up. The image of the two calmly and gently comforting their mother is still etched in the memory of the Indian people. Since then, much time has passed. Priyanka and Rahul have matured. They entered politics during turbulent times to grasp the pulse of the party. Priyanka Gandhi draws not only Congress workers or supporters but also many who see a resemblance with Indira Gandhi, especially in her stride, demeanor, and words.

Priyanka felt compelled to join Congress during a challenging time when the party was facing significant adversity. In the public perception, the image of Mrs. Gandhi remained bright. Consequently, in difficult circumstances, distressed Congress supporters spontaneously raised the slogan: "Bring Priyanka, Save the Nation."

Priyanka came, but still there was no change in the condition of the Congress. However, amidst the fierce attacks of the extreme right-wing, Priyanka Gandhi's steadfastness and dignified behavior have undoubtedly restored the self-confidence of millions of Congress workers. If Rahul Gandhi is the heart of Congress, then Priyanka is the pure passion. Amethi had assumed that Priyanka Gandhi would be a candidate this time. For whatever reason, she didn't contest. However, she remains the darling of the people of Amethi. Priyanka Gandhi's characteristic is that she is extremely homegrown. Alongside, she knows how to engage in tough battles, sharpening her political acumen. The way she confronts heavyweight BJP speakers with a cool head cannot be underestimated.

Priyanka is our household name on one side, and Congress's oxygen on the other. However, let me first say that both Priyanka Gandhis are important to us. One Priyanka is a tough politician. Her words naturally garner more attention. There is another side to Priyanka that people know less about. Priyanka, upon visiting Tamil Nadu, forgave Nalini, one of the perpetrators of her father, Rajiv Gandhi's assassination. This magnanimity is incomprehensible to the insensitive leaders of the BJP. The familial bonds in India - the creation of heavenly families through the amalgamation of parents, siblings - are universally recognized. Whether you agree or not, the Gandhi family embodies that tradition.

On the contrary, someone who is lonely and unsuccessful in their personal life is likely to attack the Gandhi family.

However, Priyanka Gandhi's confident strides, without being affected by cheap criticisms, indicate that regardless of the election results, it's highly improbable for the extreme right-wing to bring an end to the Gandhi family.

Soumitra Dastidar: Indian filmmaker and author.

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