No announcement yet.

Glamorous Gandhi relaunches 'first family' of India

  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

    Glamorous Gandhi relaunches 'first family' of India

    The relaunch of the Nehru dynasty? Will Priyanaka be as sucessful as Nehru or Indira? Only time will tell.

    Glamorous Gandhi relaunches 'first family' of India

    It is the sort of accolade usually reserved for film or pop stars: a dedicated colour "fanzine" full of swooning articles and glamorous pictures.

    The thought that a fledgling politician might merit such a tribute was, until now, risible. But here it is: The World of Priyanka, a 100-page glossy, devoted entirely to the daughter of India's first political family, the Gandhis.

    "Only Priyanka can lead all of India," insists Avilash Awasthi, the magazine's editor. "Only she can save it from the forces that are dividing our society. She is from a great family and has leadership in her blood. An all-India survey done by us shows that everyone, from Gujarat to Madhya Pradesh and Nagaland to Tamil Nadu, wants her to lead the nation."

    The privately published magazine, launched in Bombay last month on Ms Gandhi's 32nd birthday, is the latest, but by no means only expression of the Priyanka phenomenon. In the past week her smiling face has appeared on posters around the Indian capital, Delhi, for the Congress Party; the straplines declaring her to be "the crutch of the people of the country".

    As India prepares to go to the polls in April, there is a growing, if perhaps naive conviction, that the power of Priyanka alone will revive the Congress Party's dwindling fortunes.

    The party, under the leadership of Italian-born Sonia Gandhi - Ms Gandhi's mother - is a shadow of the political force that ruled India almost uninterrupted for four decades after independence. Routed in the last elections in 1999 and mauled in state polls last year, the Congress Party gives every impression of having run out of steam.

    Many believe that the moment has come for Ms Gandhi and her brother, Rahul, 33, to assume the Gandhi-Nehru dynastic mantle before it is too late.

    "Whether or not they'll stand for election is a closely guarded family secret," said a Congress official. "Only the children and their mother know that. But there's every indication that something's cooking and if they come into the fray, that would have an electrifying effect." Ms Gandhi is the daughter, grand-daughter and great-grand-daughter of Indian prime ministers, although tragedy has stalked the family.

    Her father, Rajiv, was killed in May 1991 by a suspected Tamil Tiger suicide bomber, while her grandmother, Indira, had served two terms as prime minister before she was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984.

    Ms Gandhi, who is married to an Indian businessman and has two young children, made an immediate impact when she stepped into the political spotlight four years ago to oversee her mother's campaign in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

    Addressing her first large public meeting, she received a standing ovation from supporters who had waited patiently for hours to catch a glimpse of Indira ki poti (Indira's grand-daughter). As delegates clamoured to join her on stage, she reached down and pulled them up and out of the crowd.

    Last month, she and her brother - a financial consultant who was formerly based in London - went on a tour of the family's electoral fiefdoms in Uttar Pradesh, a visit seen as putting down politcal markers.

    Flanking their mother, they found themselves back in the media spotlight last week after India's High Court issued an order exonerating their father from involvement in an arms scandal during his time as prime minister.

    It was, in the words of one Indian newspaper, "the most eloquent confirmation yet that the Nehru-Gandhi siblings were ready to plunge into elections 2004".

    "It's now or never," said Vinod Sherma, a political commentator. "Their hour of reckoning has come. A major defeat in these elections could knock Congress out of the picture for the next decade or more. This might be their last chance to make a difference."

    One rumour - and there are many in Indian politics - suggests that Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv's widow, would prefer her son to stand as a candidate, with her daughter becoming a frontline campaigner. He is seen as serious-minded with a good eye for detail.

    Ms Gandhi meanwhile, oozes confidence. Clearly, both are being groomed for future leadership of the party. Above all, enthuse Indian commentators, the pair have youth appeal - an ingredient severely lacking in a party whose upper echelon is positively geriatric. "Congress is full of old fogeys, people who believe that they have a divine right to rule India", said Mr Sherma.

    "Mrs Gandhi is surrounded by figures who really haven't a clue. If the younger generation is to make an impression, it's vital for the children, particularly Priyanka, to play a role."

    It remains to be seen whether the "Gandhi Girl", as many know her, is merely a reminder of a glorious past, or whether she really holds the key to a revitalised future. If the Congress Party is to give the ruling BJP of the Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, a run for its money, radical measures will be needed if the party faithful are to be believed, Ms Gandhi is a woman with the right stuff.

    we indians have a great patience.


      well does Priyanka has any grounds on political level apart from her supporters?
      If anything in this life is certain, if history has taught us anything, it is that you can kill anyone. Michael Corleone



        no maybe she will run on the same type of platform that benazir ran on..revenge for her family. as if national leadership and politics are WWF(WWE) ring..
        The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he did not exist. And like that... he is gone.


          Many believe that the moment has come for Ms Gandhi and her brother, Rahul, 33, to assume the Gandhi-Nehru dynastic mantle before it is too late.

          Ah, Dynastic politics - the curse of South Asia.