Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Its Gandhi v/s Gandhi

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

Its Gandhi versus the Gandhi now with Priyanka Gandhi slamming Varun Gandhi for his alleged anti-Muslim comments. She said that Varun's comments were unfortunate and stood against what their family had lived and died for. She even went on to advise Varun to read the Bhagwat Gita and understand what real Hinduism means.

Priyanka's comments came as a surprise to many as the two strings of the Gandhi family who are divided by politics are not known to flash at each other in front of the media. Many argue Priyanka's comments have come in the heat of the upcoming elections. She has signalled that she has no soft corner for her estranged cousin and she could be critical of him in front of the media.

The rivalry between the two strings of Indira Gandhi's family goes back to the 80's. Rajiv Gandhi's relationship with his younger brother Sanjay was on the rocks till Sanjay's death in 1980. Rajiv blamed Sanjay for much of Indira's political woes. Sanjay who was considered to be Indira's political heir had almost become a dictator in the Congress party much to the dismay of his mother.

Sanjay's wife Meneka Gandhi never got along well with Indira and Sonia and was known to have constant rifts with them. The rift increased after Sanjay Gandhi's accidental death in a plane crash when Meneka felt she was being marginalised within the family. Indira finally showed Meneka the door in February 1982 when their rift had become national headlines and it was unbearable any longer.

Meneka exited from the Congress party and Indira showed her fondness for her elder daughter-in-law Sonia Gandhi. Meneka subsequently joined the Janata Dal and also served as a Minister of Environment. She fought and won elections as an independent candidate in 1996 and 1998. It was during the 2004 elections that she won from BJP ticket.

Now as Sonia projects Rahul as her political heir and the future Prime Minister of the country, Meneka would like to have the same kind of treatment for her son Varun who is not any lesser Gandhi. Varun's recent outburst were more focused of stamping his authority in politics than anything else. BJP backing Varun means that not just in this election but in the future too the two string of India's first political family will be pitted against each other.


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