India opposition seeks Nehru-Gandhi dynasty boost in parliament

Congress has credited Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, 52, its general secretary, and her older brother Rahul, for nearly doubling its tally in the latest election

By Reuters
June 20, 2024
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and her brother Rahul Gandhi, senior leader of India's main opposition Congress Party, are seen ahead of an INDIA alliance meeting in New Delhi, India, June 5, 2024. — Reuters

NEW DELHI: A scion of India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty is due to make her electoral debut, potentially strengthening the opposition’s challenge to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in parliament after he was humbled in a recent election, politicians and analysts said.

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The family has long been the glue holding factions of the main opposition Congress party together, through Modi’s massive mandates in 2014 and 2019 and his unexpected loss of a parliamentary majority in elections that ended this month.

Congress has credited Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, 52, its general secretary, and her older brother Rahul, for nearly doubling its tally in the latest election, and galvanising the wider “INDIA” opposition alliance of parties led by Congress, that forced Modi to rely on allies to run a government for the first time.

Rahul and his mother Sonia have both been Congress party presidents and are lawmakers, but Priyanka, known for her oratory and crowd-pulling power, will be standing for office for the first time from one of two seats that Rahul won recently but needs to vacate, in accordance with law. Congress workers have long urged that she contests elections.

“They are getting on the offensive because Priyanka is a good speaker,” said political analyst Rasheed Kidwai.

“So in the house, it’s Modi who will be on the defensive because of the presence of the two Gandhis,” Rahul and Priyanka, he said. “The Gandhis are on a high now.”

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