New Delhi: It has been a style of contrast in the campaign by Congress President Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is the party’s star campaigner for the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.
While Rahul has adopted an aggressive no-holds-barred approach in attacking Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, mainly over the Rafale issue, Priyanka has hardly mentioned the fighter jet deal matter directly.
Rahul’s attack against the Prime Minister, with the repeated “chowkidar, chor hai” jibe, is along the expected lines as the Congress chief has been highlighting the controversial defense deal.
“Rahul is pursuing a no-holds-barred approach and attacks the Prime Minister directly as he is expected to be doing so by virtue of the party position that he has,” said a party strategist.
The Congress President’s main focus is to present Modi as pro-rich while reiterating that the Congress cares for inclusive growth.
Priyanka, on the other hand, has targeted the Prime Minister without naming him and has instead centered her campaign around his “unfulfilled” promises.
She has also tried to defuse the Prime Minister’s references to Pakistan and the Nehru-Gandhi family.
“This is Priyanka’s style. She takes on the Prime Minister without naming him and getting into a direct confrontation but delivers the punch,” said a strategist involved in her campaign.
“She has focused on social justice by highlighting the plight of youth due to lack of jobs, farmers suffering from widespread rural distress and women seeking better law and order situation,” he said.
Citing examples, party leaders said Priyanka took a dig at the Prime Minister by saying that the leader had time to travel to the US and Japan but did not visit a poor family in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi, which he promised to develop on the lines of Kyoto.
Further, she tried to defuse references to Pakistan saying the Prime Minister had gone to eat Biryani there.
“Priyanka smartly countered the attacks on late Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi by saying if the BJP leaders were real nationalists, they should respect all martyrs as both Indira and Rajiv gave up their lives for the country. This way she was able to bring up the family references before the young voters,” said a senior AICC functionary.
Priyanka’s subtle political messaging is quite different than Rahul’s rough and ready approach and suits the personalities of both the leaders, some party managers said.
Others thought that inviting the ire of the Supreme Court over the “chowkidar chor hai” jibe could have been avoided in the middle of the crucial elections.
Pointing out at another aspect of Priyanka’s voter connect, a Congress insider said she has been presenting herself as a lower-middle-class person by spending time with girl students, rural women and even chiding party workers over poll preparation.