New Delhi: The Congress seems to have slipped into a knotted quandary, faced with the development-Hindutva combine of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Having witnessed a drastic downward slide in the past decade, alienated from the majority owing to an extremist minorityism, the jumps and starts through which it is hesitantly stepping towards soft Hindutva is reflective more of a kneejerk reaction than calculated political strategy.

Now, with her own version of temple run starting Prayagraj which is to culminate in Varanasi, Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has started trudging along this continuum of befuddlement; the confusion is embellished almost daily by the public gaffes of the party president and her brother Rahul Gandhi.

Rahul Gandhi’s temple run in the run up to the assembly elections in five states, including Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan, bore limited results. On the contrary, Congress success, which was by the way wafer-thin in the big states of MP and Rajasthan, was attributed more to anti-incumbency than to the Congress president himself.

Also read: Rahul Gandhi’s temple run gives Congress mixed success in MP, Rajasthan, but BJP has ample reasons to worry

MyNation deep dives into why Vadra’s newfound love for Hindu symbols would not bear any significant gains in 2019 polls; perhaps, it could prove counterproductive instead.

1. Questionable timing 

The first and most obvious question that props up in the voters’ mind is why it is just before elections that Congress scions warm up to Hindu symbols. The hollow tokenism is rendered all the more clear when the Congress’s stand on contentious issues, such as Ram temple in Ayodhya and triple talaq, stand in stark contrast to its attempts to play to the Hindu gallery is considered.

While Vadra is now 47 years old, when did she last visit Prayagraj sangam, or the confluence of three rivers Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati? She did not participate in the Kumbh either. When was she last at the Lete Hue Hanuman temple to seek blessings? She was not even mobbed by people there.

2. In land of no crowd 

Moreover, Vadra’s popularity quotient is getting exposed by each rally, by each public appearance since she was fielded to deliver eastern UP to the Congress. This is dangerous for the Congress. Till she was kept out of public life, as a behind-the-scene influencer, her enigma was intact and thus a ray of hope for Congress revival.

The three-day boat ride that started from Prayagraj remained a non-starter — it was scantily attended by people; even some scribes complained on Twitter of mismanagement of the event; and to top it all, she can be seen in a video of the boat ride waving to a crowd that is simply not there. While for a long time she seems to be eerily waving to nothing, finally some less than 10 people appear waving at her.


3. Can't beat BJP at its game

Speaking politically, Vadra seems to be playing to an already fixed game. Before planning this boat ride, Congress strategists should have considered that the BJP won big brownie points in its nearly perfect operation of the Kumbh mela in Prayagraj. None who visited Prayagarj for a holy dip went home unimpressed. The Yogi Adityanath government employed cutting edge tech to huge manpower to make this Kumbh mela a never-before-in-history spectacle.

Also read: Kumbh Mela concluded: 6 milestones from Prayagraj chapter

The symbols meant to be invoked by Vadra in the boat ride are essentially in the kitty of the BJP. While ‘Namami Gange’ might not have succeeded as some other flagships of the Modi regime, yet the credit for bringing the river at the centre of national life goes to the BJP and it has been well claimed by the regime too.

4. An ad for Gadkari

By embarking on the boat ride, Vadra has given Union minister Nitin Gadkari a pat on back. Gadkari’s dream project is to make Indian waterways navigable and that Vadra has only proved.

5. Rahul not enough versus Modi

While the choice of Varanasi as the culmination point of this ride is to challenge PM Modi in his own backyard, her visit would only help the prime minister. The perception that Rahul Gandhi is not tall enough take on Modi would be further underscored; he needs his sister to take on the PM, while he stands to pose as prime minister material to voters.