NEW DELHI: On the day she took charge as the general secretary of the Congress for east Uttar Pradesh (UP), Priyanka Gandhi Vadra internally signalled her intent to go into political overdrive in the next few weeks.
As part of formulating the strategy to mount a challenge to its principal rival the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in eastern UP, Vadra has reached out to party leaders who have been sidelined.
Vadra is likely to undertake a roadshow in Lucknow, the state capital, and also visit the ongoing Kumbh in Prayagraj. She is set to begin work from the historical Swaraj Bhavan, the ancestral home of the Gandhi family, which is likely to be converted into a war room of Congress for eastern UP.
“We are still in the process of finalizing the plan, but it is likely that Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could hold at least 15 joint public meetings in every administrative division of the state. It is expected that Vadra would be based in Prayagraj and would operate from one of the two rooms that has traditionally been reserved for the Gandhi family," said a senior Congress leader from Prayagraj.
In a surprise announcement last month, Vadra, the sister of Rahul Gandhi, was appointed as general secretary in-charge for east UP. Her plan for UP is significant as the Congress is going alone in the state and aims to make it a triangular fight with the BJP and the alliance of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party (SP).
Back from her foreign trip earlier this week, Vadra has held a series of informal meetings with party office-bearers. “She has met party leaders over the last two days and it has been largely about stock-taking. We had a meeting and she took feedback from us about our region. Her message was that irrespective of elections, the focus should be on strengthening the booth-level presence and reconnecting with the party cadre," said a senior party leader of the state unit who met Vadra in the national capital, requesting anonymity. In the works is a plan for an exhaustive campaign strategy, focus on strengthening the organization, particularly at the booth level, and consolidating party’s support base.
Officially, Vadra and newly-appointed west UP in-charge Jyotiraditya Scindia, will attend their first national party meeting on Thursday, which has been called by Gandhi for all the general secretaries of the party to evaluate ongoing campaign initiatives. Among other suggestions on the table, senior party leaders said, is a proposal to do away with the post of a state unit president in UP and appoint two working presidents for the east and west regions to work closely with Vadra and Scindia, respectively.
Meanwhile, the district unit of the Congress in Prayagraj has been readying to host Vadra. “She has got the charge of east UP and Allahabad is historically a political nerve centre for the Gandhi family. While a date is not fixed yet, there has been an indication that she could visit the city as early as next week to begin work," a senior Congress leader from Prayagraj said requesting anonymity.