New Delhi: In what is seen as a masterstroke by the Congress ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, the Congress on Wednesday appointed Priyanka Gandhi general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East. Meanwhile, Jyotiraditya Scindia was given the charge of UP West.
Priyanka’s appointment not only reflects party’s intent to go full throttle in the politically-crucial state, which had 80 Lok Sabha seats, but also its revival efforts in Uttar Pradesh where the Congress’ influence has been waning over the years and where the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have announced a tie-up.
However, if the Congress hopes to regain lost ground in Uttar Pradesh by bringing Priyanka Gandhi into active politics, political adversaries claim she will have no impact on the crucial state ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, according to a PTI report.
Priyanka Gandhi, 47, will take over her new assignment from the first week of February, a statement from the party said. She will assist her brother, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in the Hindi heartland state.
Party workers speculated that Priyanka Gandhi, who continues the Gandhi family’s legacy of active politics, may contest the polls from her mother Sonia Gandhi’s constituency Rae Bareli.
In the months ahead of the elections, she has been tasked to match the charisma of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, two star campaigners for the BJP who also have strong presence in the region.
As political watchers debated the move and how it will impact political equations in the state, particularly with the SP and the BSP, Rahul Gandhi said he had no animosity against the two parties.
On Priyanka’s entry into active politics, Rahul said: “I am very happy that my sister Priyanka will assist me in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha polls. She is very capable.”
He also said that Jyotiraditya Scindia is a dynamic youth leader.
“We won’t play on the back foot, we will play on the front foot, be it Gujarat or Uttar Pradesh,” he said.
Party leaders said the responsibility for the state’s 80 seats have been roughly divided 40-40 between Scindia and Priyanka Gandhi.
The two replace Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has been appointed AICC general secretary for Haryana, where the party is split into different factions.
Long known as a natural in politics who inherited her grandmother Indira Gandhi’s charisma, Priyanka Gandhi was earlier actively involved in key decision making in the party along with her mother and brother, including the selection of new chief ministers for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh recently.
The mother of two is married to Robert Vadra, who is embroiled in a land row in Haryana and Rajasthan and is facing probes by the Enforcement Directorate.
“Congratulations P… Always by your side in every phase of your life. Give it your best,” Vadra said in a Facebook post.
PM Modi Slams Dynastic Politics
Hours after the announcement of Priyanka’s entry into active politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, in a veiled attack on the Congress, said that democracy runs in the BJP’s veins while in many other cases, family comprises the party.
Interacting with BJP booth workers from Baramati, Gadchiroli, Hingoli, Nanded and Nandurbar in Maharashtra, Modi said unlike “many cases” where family is the party, for the BJP the party is family.
In an apparent reference to Priyanka Gandhi, who has been appointed a Congress general secretary and made in-charge of Uttar Pradesh East, PM Modi said in the BJP, decisions are not taken on the wishes of a person or family.
“In our party, decisions are taken on the basis of what party workers want,” he said.
The prime minister also said the BJP is driven by democratic principles. “Democracy runs in the veins of BJP which is why people of the country feel closer to the party.”
BJP Terms it Congress’ Admission of Rahul’s Leadership Failure
The BJP termed Priyanka’s entry into active politics as an admission by the Congress that its president Rahul Gandhi has “failed” in providing leadership and said he has opted for family “crutches” after facing rejection from other opposition parties.
BJP leaders chose not to target Priyanka even though they latched on to her appointment to target her brother and her party’s “dynastic leadership”, claiming that the party is family in their organisation while the family is party in the Congress.
Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said wryly that since the Congress is a “family concern”, there is nothing unusual except about her appointment and wondered why was given the limited role of eastern UP as her persona merited a wider role for her.
Soon after her appointment, BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra told reporters, “The Congress has basically publicly announced that Rahul Gandhi has failed and needs crutches from within the family. Because of his rejection by grand alliance parties, he has opted for a family alliance”.
The new India is asking the question, the BJP leader said, that who will be the next leader in the Congress as he referred to its succession line from Jawaharlal Nehru to Indira Gandhi followed by Rajiv Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
“All appointments are from one family. And this is the fundamental difference between the Congress and the BJP. In the Congress, the family is party. In the BJP, the party is family,” Patra said.