Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday took a swipe at the Congress over party leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra not contesting against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi and said she has “chickened out” and the country has been denied the opportunity to see that “it does not accept inexperienced dynasts with no other credentials”.
In a blog post “Refuge in Wayanad and a Refuge Away From Varanasi – The Story of a Family Dynasty”, Jaitley said that two major political developments took place on Thursday. The first, he said, was the “huge road show” of Modi at Varanasi and the second was “surreptitious announcement” by the Congress of fielding “a political lightweight” against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart.
“The build-up of the last two weeks had been that Priyanka Gandhi would be fielded against the Prime Minister. She rejoiced in giving daily bytes to the media that she was ready to take on the Prime Minister. Her brother claimed that the party was building up the suspense for an eventual thriller,” Jaitley said.
“Obviously, she quietly chickened out of the contest. I am deeply disappointed with the Congress party’s decision of not fielding Priyanka Gandhi from Varanasi. The last two months that she has been in the public life has driven home the point — ‘India has changed, dynasties don’t matter’,” he wrote.
Jaitley said that the myths about Priyanka Gandhi stand eroded.
He said that India’s conventional wisdom has been “bund mutthi to laakh ki, khul gayi to khaak ki” (a hidden thing is worth a lakh but once opened it has no value) and the myth of “Priyanka will make a difference” was worth a lakh.
“Today, the myth has lost its value. The cards are out in the open for public scrutiny,” he said.
The BJP leader said that the Gandhis must introspect the plight of Amethi and Rae Bareli in the last 40 years and compare it to what the Prime Minister has done in Varanasi in the past five years.
“I had only hoped that Varanasi will give the new India an opportunity to decide the fate of a tried, tested and successful leader as against a new political dynast. Just repeating the same five sentences several times a day and not getting out of the obsession of ‘hamara parivar’ (our family) does not impress ‘New India’ any more.
“I am sad that new India has been denied the opportunity to establish that it does not accept inexperienced dynasts with no other credentials. India is not a banana republic. It is the world’s largest democracy,” he said.
Jaitley said that the episode has established one additional point. “It is only juvenile politics, where a family lives under an illusion that people will accept it irrespective of credentials, which persuades you to build a climax of Priyanka taking on the Prime Minister and then suffer the wrath of the anti-climax.”
The Congress on Thursday announced the candidature of former MLA Ajay Rai from Varanasi, ending speculation of Priyanka Gandhi being fielded from the constituency.
Jaitley said Modi’s roadshow culminated in the customary Ganga Aarti and if the size of the support expressed at the roadshow is any indication, he is well on the way to repeating or even increasing the 2014 victory margin.
“Even a casual visitor to Varanasi would tell you the difference which the Prime Minister has made in his constituency in the last five years.”
He said the new highways, arterial roads, ghats, railway station, airport, steamer in the Ganga and the modernisation of the electricity systems are only a few examples of the change that has happened in Varanasi.
He also referred to the proposed corridor connecting the Ganga Ghats with the Kashi Vishwanath Temple in one of the world’s oldest cities.