A glaring lack of coordination between spokesmen of the Congress embarrassed the party yesterday as Sam Pitroda and Rajiv Shukla spoke in two voices about the candidacy of party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra from the Varanasi constituency.

Late last month, Priyanka had, at the spur of the moment when poked by supporters whether she would like to replace mother Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli, quipped, “Why not Varanasi?” This made political observers conclude the Congress was taking the fight against Narendra Modi-led BJP very seriously, pitting their poster girl against none lesser tan the Prime Minister.

Thereafter, Priyanka was asked time and again whether the Congress was fielding her from Varanasi. She never said no. finally, a day before her party messed it up, she had said she would if brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi wanted her to challenge the Prime Minister directly.

Also read: What Priyanka Vadra’s plunge means for Uttar Pradesh in 2019 elections

That was not to be. But then, the decision could have been presented before the media in a smarter manner. What happened instead is that Pitroda said that Priyanka had conveyed to him that she had a “greater role” to play — that of rejuvenating the Congress in Uttar Pradesh — than campaign for herself. But Shukla said in a separate address to the press that Priyanka was willing to contest from Varanasi; it was the party that did not let her!

In the meantime, the so-called Lutyen’s media has gone bonkers, cursing Rahul Gandhi for giving up the fight in Varanasi by fielding Ajay Rai who had ranked a poor third in the 2014 election from the constituency. They are calling it the Congress’s recapitulation.

Also read: Will Priyanka Gandhi contest from Varanasi?

These mutually conflicting claims about Priyanka Vadra is making it appear as though the Congress president is insecure about the limelight his sister could attract even if she is unable to defeat Modi in Varanasi. This is plausible, as Rahul Gandhi hasn’t had a great success story since his debut in mainstream politics 15 years ago. While he has won elections individually, whereas the Congress has lost many states while winning a few of late, not even the victories of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are being credited to him.

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If this theory is not true, then the other possibility is worse. That Priyanka is impish. That she says something at the heat of the moment but does not have the wherewithal to pull it off.