Thursday, February 14, 2019

Will she, won't she? Maybe?

It had begun at Rajiv Gandhi’s funeral, when pictures of the grieving family were published in every newspaper and magazine across the country. Through the shock of his assassination, there was an urgent need for a transfer of leadership that would minimize conflict. Drawing room conversations veered towards the next generation. Young Priyanka drew a great deal of attention, with her striking resemblance to Indira Gandhi. Ever since, the question has hung in the air: Would she? Could she?

Over the next three decades, the country, particularly north India, has waited to see if she would step forward, particularly since her brother also took his time settling into his role as leader of the Congress party. In Rahul Gandhi, his tentativeness was seen as a weakness. In politics, not making a grab for power at the first given opportunity, to think of consequences, to reflect upon one’s capacity for conflict and relentless scrutiny, is viewed with suspicion.

In Priyanka, however, her reluctance has helped solidify the anticipation around the role she would eventually play. People hold women to different standards of responsibility. That she is married and has children explained her decision to absent herself from overwhelming political duties, and it may have won her additional approval from the conservative corner...

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