In a time when the Congress is desperate to be seen like it understands this century and the people inhabiting it, what more powerful icon for the urban vote and women’s empowerment could it have been than the NORMAL Priyanka Gandhi with sassy hair and her own very confident style? Forget the people, the Congress seems unable to get its leaders out of the bahu-beti-bitiya rut. The idea of leaders leading seems to have completely passed these jokers by, as they change people from who they are to what the people want to see. Compare this with an Indira Gandhi who had no qualms being photographed smoking or winning a war or declaring emergency. Whether her controversial actions were liked or not is another matter, but she was HERSELF, not pretending to be someone else to give people what they wanted to see. That is why liked or not, she was a LEADER. Which bitiya Priyanka, as a pale ghost haunting the Congress will never be. AND if she succeeds by some miracle, she will be succeeding in endorsing stereotypes of women as they were in the previous century – a setback for women power in a place like UP – for votes. Brutal defeat in the Delhi Assembly elections had Rahul Gandhi going into a stream of consciousness kind of speech that spanned feelings of immediate defeat in the beginning with intent to do what AAP did toward the end, rambling gracelessly to the point he probably didn’t realize that for Congress to do what AAP did, he’d have to let go of the mike first. Unprecedented for Indian politics, the aftermath of the Delhi Gang Rape had women from the Congress Party complaining to Sonia Gandhi about sexual harassment by politicians in the party, where big headlines were made of Sonia Gandhi’s firm resolve that no sexual harassers would be allowed in the Party. Limelight gone, not a thing was done to deliver on this promise. Rahul Gandhi has spewed endless nonsense about party democracy and moving away from dynastic politics without realizing that it is still him speaking. And now, as elections approach, you see again the complete incomprehension that people do not want to see dynastic politics. Back comes Priyanka Gandhi, who had asked to be called Priyanka Vadra, but like the changed hair parting, high forehead and sudden interest in curls, I suppose Gandhi sounds better for election time announcements. There is nothing wrong with this. It is not illegal to be so completely senile that you simply cannot comprehend a changing nation. That you see nothing wrong in reinforcing stereotypes of women bound to dead traditions in a coutry where women are trying desperately to claw their way into an individual identity, just to get votes of people who like to keep things as they were in the past. But if you call yourself a progressive party after this, you are not just retrogressive, you’re illiterate to boot. It is just sad to see a party born before the nation, that fought for independence and led the country through most of its life fear change so much that it would rather go into oblivion worshiping its cliches than risk the change it claims to see the need for at every turn. Just answer me this. Why isn’t Rahul Gandhi dolled up to look like Feroz Gandhi or Nehru?