Rahul makes her Gen Secy in-charge of East UP for polls
Ending years of speculation, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the sister of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, on Wednesday finally plunged into active politics ahead of the Lok Sabha elections to take on the might of the BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the crucial Hindi heartland that has 80 Lok Sabha seats.
Dubbed as the “brahmastra” of the Congress, Priyanka will debut as the party’s general secretary incharge of the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh having Modi’s constituency in Varanasi and also UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath bastion in Gorakhpur.
Congress leaders said Priyanka’s entry into active party politics will galvanise the workers, helping them take on the dual challenge posed in the State by the BJP and the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance.
The Congress hopes that Priyanka will be able to turn the projected direct fight between the BJP and SP-BSP alliance into triangular contest where the Congress could benefit on a number of seats due to division of votes.
Congress leaders also feel that while it is too early to assess the impact of a possible Congress revival under Priyanka stewardship on the prospect of the BJP and the SP-BSP alliance, but care may be taken in the selection of candidates to ensure that the BJP suffers most.
Congress list of candidates, sources said, may be dominated by upper castes, since the BJP hopes to capitalise on 10 per cent reservation to general category candidates in educational institutions and employment to woo the upper caste voters. Priyanka can play vital role there in bringing back the traditional upper caste voters to the Congress fold.
Soon after her appointment as an office-bearer in AICC, speculation is rife that she may be fielded as the party candidate from Rae Bareli, the constituency currently being represented by her mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who is not keeping well of late.
Though no reactions came till late evening from Priyanka as she is reportedly in New York and scheduled to return on February 1, Rahul said he is happy that Priyanka will assist him in the Lok Sabha polls.
“I am very happy that my sister Priyanka will assist me in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha polls, she is very capable,” Rahul said at Amethi after making some of the crucial appointments in the party system. The brother-sister duo will formally announce the beginning of Lok Sabha poll campaign in UP on February 4 at a Press conference.
Senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia will be on par with Priyanka as AICC general secretary for Uttar Pradesh West region. Rahul added Scindia is a dynamic youth leader. Both Priyanka and Scindia replace Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has been appointed AICC general secretary for Haryana, where the party is facing factionism.
“UP is central to building a new hope fulfilled. The new UP AICC team led by Priyanka and Scindia will herald the dawn of a new kind of politics in the State. We will offer the youth in UP a dynamic new platform to transform the State,” said Rahul.
Husban Robert Vadra congratulated Priyanka on a Facebook post, “Congratulations P… always by your side in every phase of your life.” The BJP has been repeatedly targeting Vadra, a businessman being investigated for allegedly corrupt land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan and is facing probes by the Enforcement Directorate.
The party is not immediately clear on the division of the 80 parliamentary seats between the two new incharges but sources said it could be 40 each. Both Amethi and Rae Bareli, the two Gandhi family bastions, fall in eastern Uttar Pradesh and Priyanka has been extensively campaigning since 2004 in all national and State level elections.
Though the announcement came as a booster for the State unit party workers and reactions poured in from across the country, Priyanka has been always active in decision-making and also played a key role in the alliance with Akhilesh SP in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.
She also participated in crucial party meetings, including the recent appointments of Chief Ministers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh where the BJP was dethroned. She was also instrumental in initiating the entry of Manpreet Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu in the Punjab Congress.
“This is an opportunity for the Congress to strike back in the most crucial state of the country where the organisation had all through been wanting her to plunge into active politics,” said Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson Rajiv Bakshi.
“We welcome both Priyankaji and Jyotiraditya Scindia to lead all of us, and look forward for a 40 plus tally for the party in the coming Lok Sabha polls,” Bakshi said adding that Priyanka belongs to Uttar Pradesh and the party needed her and reminded that 47 year old Priyanka is often compared with her grandmother, former Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi.
The Congress also appointed KC Venugopal as general secretary, organisation. He replaces Ashok Gehlot, who has since become Chief Minister of Rajasthan. Venugopal will continue to be AICC general secretary for Karnataka, where the party is in power with the Janata Dal Secular.
Thursday, 24 January 2019 | PNS | New Delhi
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