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The steel behind the Gandhi smile

April 24, 2009

Jyoti Malhotra's notes from the campaign trail on perhaps the most charismatic campaigner this election.

There is no such thing as a Priyanka Gandhi overdose these days -- not when the soaring temperature in the Amethi countryside competes with the throbbing pulse and the quickening heart rate of journalists who have descended here from all over the country hoping for that elusive encounter with a Gandhi blueblood. And guess what, the lady is actually willing.

This week Priyanka Gandhi has smiled and dimpled, and revealed most things about her life you would never have known about if this was not going to be a make-or-break election for the Congress party. Not only that, she is a practicing Buddhist, who believes in the Middle Path, or that she religiously practises martial arts. We know, now, that her two children -- Rehan and Maira -- are in school (which is why they’re not with her), and that she really misses them.

But after the shock and awe of having come face to face with India's most charismatic -- and undoubtedly, most reluctant -- politician has faded a bit, you begin to discover the steel behind the smile. The Left parties should abandon their retrogressive ideologies, she told one television channel, that the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had retraced its comments on Sri Lanka, she told another newspaper, and as she admitted to, RJD leader Lalu Prasad Yadav's remarks blaming the Congress for the Babri Masjid demolition were "politically motivated."

Image: Priyanka Gandhi at an election rally in Amethi. Photographs:

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