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Cadre Over Neta, Charisma Over Caste: Decoding Priyanka Gandhi’s New Style of Politics

Priyanka Gandhi and Congress are planning a category much broader that encompasses caste and echoes the meaning of class. However, categories like women, youth and marginal seem too abstract.

Badri Narayan |

Updated:February 19, 2019, 7:02 PM IST
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Cadre Over Neta, Charisma Over Caste: Decoding Priyanka Gandhi’s New Style of Politics
File photo of Priyanka Gandhi.
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Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, before her Lucknow visit, sent a telephonic message to the people and promised to bring a new style of politics to Uttar Pradesh. Rahul Gandhi also talks about this “new politics” from time to time.

But what is this new politics? She says that youth, women and marginal sections of the society all may hear their voices in this new politics.

It means this politics will be all inclusive, but will focus on youth, women and Dalits. In Uttar Pradesh, there is politics based on caste, and other categories produced by social backwardness and Hindutva sentiment.

Priyanka Gandhi and Congress are planning a category much broader that encompasses caste and echoes the meaning of class. However, categories like women, youth and marginal seem too abstract.

These categories are also divided on lines of caste and class, and can only unite under a charismatic leader.

The charisma of Priyanka Gandhi crosses such boundaries, and it may be one of the basic constituents of the new politics that Congress is planning in UP for 2019 election.

To reach out to these people and categories, the Congress general secretary would have to set aside the party’s conventional politics in which netas were important than cadres. She has held marathon meetings with workers, understanding that this is one area where the BJP has lagged behind the BJP, which has been able to reach more people with the help of RSS, a cadre-based outfit.

With this charisma-based mobilisation in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress wants to gather its traditional voters who are scattered and fragmented. These traditional Congress voters are distributed among various caste and communities.

So, in short, Congress would like to evolve a politics which may use caste and other identities at a hidden level, but in discourse they would like to create a casteless politics, which may be a counter strategy to SP-BSP mobilisation.

To counter Hindutva politics, Congress may propose to unite upper castes based on their traditional linkages with the Congress and the charisma of Priyanka Gandhi.

Congress has also been compelled to develop a discourse around real issues that hurt peasants, labourers, youths and women at the obvious level because the caste-arithmetic does not suit the party in Uttar Pradesh.

Like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh, this Congress strategy will be centered on rural distress and rural poor. Issues that emerged from notebandi and GST may be a part of electoral discourse in Uttar Pradesh in the coming 2019 election but central focus of Congress strategy would be poverty caused by underdevelopment during the BJP rule.

Loan waiving, growing fragmentation in society, issues related with declining culture of synthesis may be important issues in the Uttar Pradesh in coming 2019 election. The basic minimum income scheme proposed by Rahul Gandhi may also help the party woo the poor in UP. The Congress will also strongly raise issues like alleged atrocities on Dalits during the BJP regime.



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