What is the constituency of Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi. A crowd has been waiting for her in Amethi, an Indian constituency that is considered the political bastion of the Gandhi family: "Hopefully everything will be fine now that she is here," assured two members of the Congress Party, who reassured the heat brave to catch a glimpse of Priyanka Gandhi. The 42-year-old daughter of Congress party leader Sonia Gandhi recently threw herself into the role of an election campaigner with verve.

Unlike her brother Rahul, the top candidate of the ruling party, she appears fearless and does not shy away from arguments. On the speaker's platform, the tall politician is clearly enjoying her attraction in the crowd and the admiration that is shown to her. To underline the similarity between herself and her famous grandmother Indira Gandhi, Priyanka wears the same old saris as the iron lady of India, who was head of government from 1966 to 1984.

The magic fades


The Gandhi family not only provided three prime ministers, but like no other name is associated with the Congress Party, which has ruled the country almost continuously since India gained independence from Great Britain in 1947. The current Congress Party leader Sonia Gandhi is the widow of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in 1991 and who followed his mother Indira Gandhi into politics, just as Indira Gandhi followed her father Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first Prime Minister, into politics. Rahul Gandhi is now set to rule India next in line.

Despite the common family name, the Gandhis are not related to the independence fighter Mahatma Gandhi. But Nehru and Gandhi were political companions, so that the family dynasty could bask in the light of the Gandhi movement. But while that has always been a pound that Congress could use, this time it is different. The mood has turned against the Gandhis.

Priyanka Gandhi reads out the projects that the party has started in the Amethi constituency from a long list: self-help groups, educational initiatives, improvements in agriculture and milk production. But the audience comes more for the magic that the name Gandhi has in India, less for words and speeches. But especially with this choice, this magic seems to fade more and more - even in Amethi, in the poor state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India. With just under 1.4 million eligible voters, the constituency is considered a safe bet for the Gandhis, a stronghold of the Congress Party. Because of the size of the country with its 814 million voters, India will vote in stages over a period of five weeks. The result is expected on May 16th.

Priyanka is seen as the last hope for the ailing party, whose top candidate looks colorless and fidgety. The 43-year-old Rahul Gandhi, ancestor of the Nehru Gandhi dynasty, may have inherited the magical name of the clan, but hardly any political instinct. His campaign remained weak, with Rahul looking like someone who would rather be a student than India's next prime minister.

Many bookmakers have already started to stop taking bets that Rahul will make it to the head of government. Polls see Narendra Modi of the opposition, Hindunationalist BJP clearly ahead. In his home state of Gujarat, he has been driving economic development for the past ten years. But the 63-year-old has not yet been able to shake the "spirit of Gujarat". Opponents accuse him of deliberately failing to stop the brutal riots between Muslims and Hindus in Gujarat in 2002. At that time, more than 1,000 people - the majority Muslims - were killed. Critics of Modis fear that he will divide the multi-religious country instead of one.

Because it is still seething, only this week there were serious attacks. Eleven Muslims were killed in the northeastern state of Assam. The police suspect that members of the Bodo tribe, who have often clashed with Muslim settlers in the region, are behind the attacks.

For the time being, Modi concentrates on his duel with the Gandhis and leaves nothing out to emphasize the contrast between him and the political dynasty. He emphasizes that he worked out everything for himself, while the Gandhis were "born with a golden spoon". "What do you know about poverty? You don't know poverty. I was born poor. I sold tea in trains." The Congress Party, Modi railed, was just the long arm of the Gandhi family and their loyal followers. The party kept nothing of its great promises to give the poor a better life.

New party


Modi isn't the only one digging the Gandhis out of the water. The new, populist Aam Aadmi Party (in German: Little Man's Party) has skillfully adopted the traditions and slogans of the Congress Party. The supporters proudly wear the white Gandhi cap, which India's first Prime Minister Nehru liked to wear and which was considered a symbol of renunciation and modesty. The Congress Party, on the other hand, looks like a shadow of itself after ten years in government. Its party symbol, a hand, is mocked by its opponents as a symbol of corruption and nepotism.

Priyanka Gandhi counters the critics. To rule India, "you need a big heart and not a cold instinct for power," she says against Modi. Unlike her brother Rahul and her mother Sonia, Priyanka is not standing for election for a seat in parliament. India uses the British electoral system, according to which a candidate must first win his constituency in order to get one of the 543 seats in the parliament. This system makes the outcome of the vote difficult to calculate. But if the predictions are believed, Congress faces the worst election defeat in its history. To what extent Priyanka can turn the party's fortunes with her appearance on the political stage is questionable.

Questionable empire


The mother of two, who has so far been very little involved, is hardly experienced in politics. In addition to her sonorous family name, she has a second surname that can quickly become a political burden: her husband, Robert Vadra, amassed a billion-dollar fortune in the real estate business practically overnight. The 44-year-old, whose father came to the capital New Delhi as a poor refugee after the partition of India and Pakistan, built up his business empire with just a few thousand US dollars of start-up capital. According to critics, such a financial miracle cannot be achieved without the influence of the powerful Gandhi family in the background. "What big heart helped build this empire?" Asked the BJP mockingly in a campaign video showing Priyanka Gandhi's husband in a Playboy pose with expensive motorcycles and in the gym. For her political opponents, Priyanka's husband stands for everything that went wrong under the Congress government: nepotism, rampant corruption and stagnant economic growth.

In Amethi, where Priyanka Gandhi was campaigning for votes, voter turnout remained low at 48 percent - despite the star appearances of the Gandhi and the heated verbal duels of the past few days. Perhaps this is also a sign of India's growing disinterest in the Gandhi.