Crowds chant ‘Indira! Indira!’ as Priyanka Gandhi takes stage in Gujarat

Crowds at a poll rally in Gandhinagar in Gujarat chanted ‘Indira! Indira!’ when Priyanka Gandhi was called to address the crowd, perhaps for the first time outside the Congress pocket borough of Amethi.

It was not clear if the chanting was being done by Congress office bearers or the crowd that had come to listen to Rahul and Priyanka.

Still, the development comes as the Congress Party tries to tap into lingering good will for Indira Gandhi, grandmother to Congress President Rahul Gandhi and sister Priyanka Gandhi.

In her days, Indira Gandhi was seen as a strong and decisive leader who tried to make India a socialist country through various measures such as the takeover of banks by the government.

The Congress party has been encouraged by resemblances between the appearance of Priyanka Gandhi and Indira Gandhi, but has also been wary of tapping into it.

For long, Priyanka, the younger of the siblings, has been forced to stay in the background to avoid competing with her brother.

However, faced with an existential crisis in front of a resurgent Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress leadership has, in the last few days, shown a willingness to give Priyanka a larger role and a platform.

Even Priyanka’s husband, Robert Vadra, has in recent days expressed his desire to “serve the people”.

“Ask those who make tall claims in front of you, where are the 2 cr jobs that you promised,” Priyanka said at the rally, after prefacing her remarks by saying that she wasn’t expecting to speak and therefore does not have a speech ready.

“Ask him, where is the Rs 15 lakh you promised,” she went on, in a reference to a remark that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made five years ago to the effect that if all the money stashed away by tax-evading Indians could be brought back to the country, it would be enough to give Rs 15 lakh to each of the poor of this country.

She warned voters not to be diverted, and to instead focus on core issues. “Ask the right questions. A lot of issues will be raised in front of you. Your alertness is what will make this country. That is how you show your love for your country,” the younger of the siblings said.

In her brief speech, she repeated the charges that the current government is undermining institutions, spreading hatred etc..