Indian voters are seeing more of Priyanka Gandhi and hearing more from her than before this poll season.
Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi are showered with flower petals by supporters before Rahul filed his nomination for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Amethi. (AFP photo)
Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s sister has been unusually vocal, providing a new angle to the political discourse.
The first stirrings of action were noted last week. After voting in Delhi on April 10, she dismissed talk of any wave in favour of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) prime ministerial nominee Narendra Modi.
The real action, however, unfolded two days later after Priyanka, unusually, took the poll fight to cousin and BJP leader Varun Gandhi.
Read: Priyanka Gandhi targets Varun, says Lok Sabha elections not a family tea party
On the campaign trail in Amethi, where Rahul is seeking a third consecutive term, she told Congress workers last Saturday, “He (Varun) is my brother. But he has gone astray. When a young one in the family chooses the wrong path, the elders show him the right path. I urge all of you to show my brother the right path.”
Varun, the BJP candidate from neighbouring Sultanpur, did not immediately react to Priyanka’s jibe, but his mother and senior BJP leader Maneka Gandhi hit back on Sunday.
“If he has gone astray while serving the country, the country will decide,” Maneka said.
Watch video: It's ideological war not family tea party, says Priyanka Vadra on Varun Gandhi
Varun broke his silence on Tuesday, suggesting Priyanka had crossed the "lakshman rekha of decency".
Within hours, Priyanka added the next chapter to this war of words, saying the Lok Sabha elections were "an ideological war and not a family tea party".
Priyanka, however, is not focusing only on this Gandhi versus Gandhi back-and-forth.
She has jumped right into the storm triggered by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s former media advisor Sanjaya Baru's book, which says Sonia “remote controlled” the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Singh played “second fiddle” to her.
Defending the Congress, Priyanka said in Amethi “only Manmohan Singh was the super prime minister" in the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.
Amid all this, Priyanka has had to trash a report that the Congress did not allow her to contest against Modi from Varanasi.
According to Priyanka, her decision not to contest is "personal" and her family will "wholeheartedly support" her if she ever wants to take the electoral plunge.
Married to businessman Robert Vadra, whom the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party are attacking over alleged illegal land deals, Priyanka has for long largely restricted herself to campaigning in Rae Bareli (Sonia Gandhi is the MP) and Amethi in Uttar Pradesh.
The mother of two has again decided to limit her campaign to these two seats again.
By no means is she a wallflower. In March 2008, she met Nalini Sriharan, one of the conspirators in her father (former PM) Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination, at Vellore central jail in Tamil Nadu.
The visit was kept under wraps, but the news did trickle out and triggered quite a flutter. Almost a month later, Priyanka had said her meeting with Nalini was her way of coming to peace with the violence and loss she had experienced.