Gandhi charisma poses dilemma to BJP strategists
How do you fight the Gandhi charisma? That seems to be the dilemma Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) strategists are faced with.
For two successive days (Monday and Tuesday), television news channels sidelined BJP's top leaders, including Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, to focus on the country's foremost political family, the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty.
On Monday it was the filing of nominations by Rahul Gandhi in Amethi accompanied by mother Sonia Gandhi and sister Priyanaka and on Tuesday it was Sonia filing her nomination in Rae Bareli accompanied by her two children.
The photogenic Gandhi children, the frenzied adulation by milling supporters showering rose petals and coloured powder were almost script for Bollywood, and the TV channels just lapped them up.
All this when the BJP had planned what party spokesmen had labelled as "carpet bombing" of the voters by their leaders. The scheduled live telecast of the speeches of Vajpayee and Advani from Lucknow on the first day and Guwahati and Ayodhya respectively on the second day could only be shown in patches as the Gandhi clan hogged the limelight.
"It was not planned at all - it is the media that is doing it, not us," shrugged Congress leader Salman Khurshid. "We are accustomed to the Gandhi family getting such unprecedented attention. Apparently the BJP's 'bombs' did not go off!"