It has been an unhealthy election campaign. Vitriolic barbs, personal attacks, abuses, fake charges and half-truths about rivals marked the long drawn out campaign. As a tired nation takes a breather before the results are declared, there is grudging acknowledgment of the refreshing change brought about by Priyanka Gandhi.
Well groomed, soft-spoken and clear headed, she struck a contrast with the Prime Minister or other BJP leaders like Nirmala Sitharaman, Smriti Irani or Meenakshi Lekhi. While these BJP stalwarts mocked, snarled and sneered, the smile rarely left the face of Priyanka Gandhi.
She was at ease while wading into crowds, handling snakes offered by snake charmers or while stopping her carcade to get down and shake hands with Modi supporters. She wished them well and apparently disarmed them by declaring, ‘Aap Apni Jagah, Main Apni Jagah’ (You have taken a position and so have I).
She spoke with clarity and candour. She faced questions about corruption, charges against her late father and her husband as well as her mother but never lost her cool. Nor was she apologetic or on the defensive. The confidence with which she faced the questions and addressed the charges would have made her grandmother proud.
Speaking at a rally in Punjab two days back in chaste Punjabi, she told her spell bound audience,"My husband is a Punjabi and I have learnt to be tough in life because of him. Punjabis believe in Charti Kalan which means they are positive minded people."
In her short political career of four months, she time and again displayed a sensitive side. Like a true leader, she never lost her human touch to help people in distress.
Instances of her sending a child to AIIMS for treatment in a special chartered plane have made news but she even gets down from her vehicle on noticing a person who fainted under a scorching Sun at a rally in Varanasi.
The photograph of Priyanka Gandhi carrying the slippers of an injured journalist in Kerala while others were trying to find an ambulance to take him to hospital, went viral on social media. Unlike the Prime Minister she did not seek the camera, cameras pursued her.
The only time Priyanka Gandhi lost her cool in these elections was when Mayawati and some journalists started saying that she was trying to help the BJP by putting up candidates in all constituencies in UP.
To which, a worked up Priyanka said," I would rather die than help the BJP." That's a strong statement coming from Priyanka who has even forgiven the killers of her father late Rajiv Gandhi.
In Ghaziabad and other places, BJP supporters tried to disrupt her rally by shouting ‘Modi Modi’ but she responded with her disarming smile and showering rose petals on them and throwing garlands.
When she found a group of stragglers who started shouting ‘Modi Modi’ when she was driving by, she stopped her vehicle, walked up to them and said, “You have your own beliefs I have my own. All the best."
By the time she left she had won them over and they ended up taking selfies with her.