It is understood by now that the Congress has made a last-minute change in its campaign plan, may be because it is feeling uneasy with the high level of turnouts registered at the six phases of polling held so far and has backed Priyanka Gandhi to launch an aggressive campaign against the opponents, particularly Narendra Modi.
But how much successful has been the Congress's Plan B?
Is Priyanka Gandhi saving the Congress or the Gandhis?
First, Priyanka Gandhi's repeated attacks on Modi from Rae Bareli is not helping the Congress to broaden its appeal in a national election even though the target is to get a maximum attention from the media. But instead, while the BJP's massive show of strength in Varanasi on Thursday when Modi reached there to file nomination for the May 12 election has made a strong impact, Priyanka Gandhi's firing from a safe base is seen more as a sign of weakness.
For the Congress think tank, projecting the third Gandhi in a Gandhi bastion is making its case stronger, but for an observer, it looks to be a desperate effort to save the Gandhis only and not the party. Sonia Gandhi had won from Rae Bareli by huge margins in 2004 (3.72 lakh votes) and 2009 (2.49 lakh votes). Why does she needs so much campaigning by her daughter this time? Is there a nervous energy in the chief's constituency itself that a fresh face needed to be roped in in the final moments? If that is the case, then the Congress is in a real trouble.
Corruption, women and now back to corruption, Priyanka's limited arsenal
Secondly, the Congress has decided to make Priyanka Gandhi the lead campaigner against Modi to not let the latter win unopposed in Uttar Pradesh. She is raking up issues like corruption charges against her husband and other family sentiments to strike a chord with the local voters and also taking on Modi on the issue of Snoopgate to corner him in the minds of women. The aim was to steal some wind out of Modi's sails ahead of his filing nomination in Uttar Pradesh and after seeing a massive turnout in Varanasi on Thursday, one is doubtful about it.
Instead, the BJP looked a far more organised lot than either the Congress or Aam Aadmi Party in executing its mobilisation strategy in the holy city. From Madan Mohan Malaviya's grandson to a representative of the weaver community, the BJP's roping in people from across the social spectrum makes its inclusive ploy look a comprehensive one and is bound to rattle the Congress more.
On Friday, Priyanka returned to the debate over the Gujarat model to bash Modi. She also raked up Modi's 'RSVP' and 'ABCD' jibes at the Congress. She was smiling as she was speaking. Was it an earnest effort to hide the frustration?
Congress banking less on Rahul to take on Modi?
Thirdly, the Congress is perhaps not banking much on Rahul Gandhi's capacity to take the encounter with Modi to the next level. It is expecting Priyanka to give a launching pad to two of its main faces contesting from Uttar Pradesh, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi and project Rae Bareli and Amethi as equally important as Varanasi. But will the strategy to counter Modi by just using razor-sharp vocabulary pay off?
If the Congress had to ultimately rope in Priyanka Gandhi, why wasn't this done in January 2013 when Rahul Gandhi was made the party's vice-president in an emotionally charged occasion in Jaipur? What big difference can Priyanka Gandhi can make by entering the boxing ring at the 11th hour? It is more of an adhocism on the Congress's behalf than a properly thought-out strategy.
Unleashing Priyanka factor outside Gandhi bastions will put Rahul under pressure
The Congress is also in a fix over its Plan B for unleashing the Priyanka factor outside Amethi and Rae Bareli will in a way put Rahul Gandhi under pressure. The party has to somehow accommodate the siblings along with their mother while dealing with Modi and this might see itself lacking a clarity in strategising in this crucial election.
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