Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma
Previously, Chunar Fort was famous for Devki Nandan Khatri's 'Chandrakanta' serial.
But in 26 hours, it found another reason for fame: Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi who sat on a dharna over the Sonbhadra massacre. This is probably the first time the nation has seen this side of Priyanka Gandhi. She braved 40-degree heat and humidity to meet the victims' kin.
She persevered along with other Congress workers in the guest house, and continued to do so until the Yogi government gave up. Priyanka Gandhi convinced her party workers that getting a seat is impossible without struggle. But it begs the question:
How long can congress cadres keep up their fighting spirit?
This is her first big protest after entering politics, and it's certainly been a hit.
What was Priyanka's stubbornness in the protest translated to confidence in the workers.
The Will to Bring About Justice for Victims
For the first time in a long time, it seemed as if the Congress was breaking a sweat.
Because otherwise, hitting the streets and protesting for over 26 hours is a skill unknown to politicians in today's day and age. Sitting an air-conditioned rooms and giving bites to the media has become a habit for Congress netas. But through her protest against the Sonbhadra massacre, Priyanka Gandhi showed them another way where everyone will be compelled to hit the streets and make better use of their time.
In the first stroke, Priyanka's protest has stirred new confidence in the Congress.
Will Priyanka Be the Voice of the Opposition in UP?
It's not as if Priyanka Gandhi did not know about politics before entering it. She had intentionally held her rallies in Amethi and Rae Bareli. However, all that fell short in the Lok Sabha elections as the Congress managed to win only seat in UP.
They lost their bastion Amethi but that does not mean that you can dismiss Priyanka Gandhi. The way she has shown her mettle after the Sonbhadra massacre and stood against the government it is evident that the Yogi government will have to face the wrath of Congress protests in the coming two years. While going to Sonbhadra, she even made it clear that this Is only the trailer. She told the workers she will come back.
In Indian politics, it is always said that Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi don't understand the needs of the poor because they were born with silver spoons. But Priyanka's 26-hour protest at Mirzapur's Chunar guest house was a lesson for all critics.
When Mirzapur's district authorities stopped Priyanka Gandhi from entering Sonbhadra
and escorted her to Chunar guest house they did not know that the situation would
escalate this way. Authorities thought that like other ministers Priyanka Gandhi too would hold a photo session and eventually leave. But she had left Delhi with an entirely different goal. When the authorities talked about detaining her to prevent her from going to Sonbhadra, Priyanka reached her saturation point and clearly stated that
“I shall not leave without meeting the victims, whether I go to jail or not.”Priyanka Gandhi
The clock ticked on 19 July evening and more and more Congress workers came to the guest house. Priyanka was sitting on her dharna, while people were dripping in sweat due to the extreme heat. Their courage was failing, but after looking at Priyanka, they'd get a confidence boost. There was also a time when there was a power outage in the guest house, with no lights and no fans.
But that did not stop Priyanka. She continued her protest in the dark. The authorities couldn't break Priyanka's dedication and willpower. The district administration kept requesting her to go back to Varanasi where there was air-conditioning.
The situation was such that the ADG of Varanasi, Mirzapur's DM and SP tried to convince Priyanka till 1 in the morning but she made it clear that she is not here for a picnic, but to get justice for the victims. She spent the whole night under a fan. It can be said that she stayed awake to rekindle workers' spirits.
Senior Leaders Can Learn From Priyanka
Priyanka's 26-hour protest sends a message that she might be new to politics, but she is certainly not an amateur. Like an experienced politician, she created such a huge stir about the issue that even the Yogi government got up from their seats.
Had she successfully met the victims without any obstacle then the news would have subsided quickly, but the authorities' hubris handed Priyanka the opportunity to bring the issue national attention.
And she left no stone unturned. She successfully connected with everyone during her protest. Be it workers, politicians or the victims who came to meet her.
She was talking to everyone in a simple and down-to-earth manner. Not just that, senior Congress leaders can learn media management from Priyanka too.
In 26 hours of the protest, Priyanka gave interviews to the media at least 10 times.
Interviews Minus the Bias
She gave more attention to local reporters. Usually, senior leaders give special interviews only to a selected bunch of journalists. But she shattered that norm, which resulted in her being everywhere on the 19 and 20 July, from TV to newspapers.
(This story was first published on Quint Hindi)