Are Uttar Pradesh polls the soft launch for Priyanka Gandhi?
New Delhi: The list of 40 star campaigners for the Congress party in Uttar Pradesh (UP) this year includes another Gandhi: Priyanka. The big question in political circles is whether the upcoming assembly poll is the soft launch for another Gandhi.
The announcement of an alliance between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) last week is being seen by party leaders as setting the stage for making Priyanka Gandhi, daughter of Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the face of the party in the UP election.
Apart from being one of the star campaigners of the Congress party in UP, she has also been attending strategy discussions and sharing ideas to fine-tune the campaign.
“Her involvement in Uttar Pradesh can be understood from the fact that she has attended almost every top-level strategy meet on UP. There were review meetings run only by her with state functionaries and in-charges; sometimes, no other senior Congress leader was present in the meeting chaired by her,” a senior Congress leader from the state said, requesting anonymity.
Most meetings attended by Priyanka Gandhi have been at 12, Tughlak Road, the official residence of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Party leaders insist she is “assisting her brother” in the campaign and has also discussed feedback on the Sandesh Yatra, Rahul Gandhi’s effort to travel to every panchayat in the state.
“The possibility of her holding public meetings in UP is being worked out right now. While it is not final yet, she will lead public rallies as and when the campaign requires,” another party leader said.
While Rahul Gandhi was instrumental in stitching an alliance with SP, talks hit a roadblock over seat sharing. Senior leaders say Priyanka Gandhi stepped in to salvage the alliance by reducing the Congress’s demand.
“The ascendance of Priyanka Gandhi is visible in the upcoming Uttar Pradesh elections and there is no doubt that she has a greater following than most of the top leaders of Congress party. By taking part in decision making and leading the campaign, she is making a statement that she has arrived as a leader who does not fear taking decisions,” said Jai Mrug, a Mumbai-based political analyst.
Priyanka is known to be closely working with Ghulam Nabi Azad, the party’s general secretary in-charge of the state as well as state functionaries. While Priyanka’s involvement in the family bastions of Amethi and Rae Bareilly is not new, there has been a growing chorus within the party cadre to expand her role.