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PRIYANKA TAKES THE PLUNGE

January 24, 2019 06:08 AM

COURTESY MIORROR JAN 24

PRIYANKA TAKES THE PLUNGE
Given charge of UP East which comprises four significant constituencies: Modi’s home turf Varanasi, Adityanath’s pocket borough Gorakhpur, Rahul’s stronghold Amethi and Sonia’s bastion Rae Bareli
Sweta.Dutta@timesgroup.com

#NEW DELHI

With less than three months to go for the parliamentary polls and finding himself pushed into a corner by the SP-BSP alliance in Uttar Pradesh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday revealed the ace up his sleeve and appointed sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the All India Congress Committee general secretary incharge of UP East.


Though the 47-year-old Gandhi scion has relentlessly worked on the ground in her mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s constituency Rae Bareli for decades and has also played sounding board to elder brother Rahul in times of crisis, this is the first time that she has come out of the shadows and entered active politics.

While Priyanka is currently out of the country, the Congress timed the announcement with Rahul’s rally in his constituency Amethi. Apart from Priyanka, the party notification also stated that Jyotiraditya Scindia was the new AICC general secretary in-charge of UP West and that senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad was moved from UP to Haryana. Haryana is crucial for the Congress as the state will go for assembly polls later this year.

Ashok Gehlot, who was doubling up as Rajasthan CM and AICC general secretary (Organisation) was replaced by KC Venugopal, who will continue to hold charge of Karnataka as well.

The announcement sent the Opposition into a tizzy.

In an apparent reference to her appointment, Modi said unlike ‘many cases’ where family is the party, for the BJP the party is family.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra attacked Rahul for opting for family ‘crutches’ after facing rejection from other opposition parties.

Priyanka’s entry into active politics is also being seen as a step to give her a formal role in assisting Rahul in running the grand Old Party as Sonia is no longer active due to health issues.

Her assignment as in-charge of UP East assumes significant as the region comprises four key electorates: UP CM Yogi Adityanath’s constituency Gorakhpur, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s home turf Varanasi, Rahul’s stronghold Amethi and Sonia’s bastion Rae Bareli.

Speculations are rife that she could either step into her mother’s shoes and contest the Lok Sabha polls from Rae Bareli if Sonia decides to retire from electoral politics or she could also be fielded against PM Modi in Varanasi.

“It is her decision… All I want to say is that we will not play on the back foot… not in Gujarat, not here (UP). Following this, I think there will be new leadership and thought process in UP. We are in politics for the people and we will now play on the front foot,” Rahul told reporters in Amethi.

With Sonia complaining of poor health and missing out on regular tours of her home constituency, Priyanka had almost assumed full charge of Rae Bareli lately. On Wednesday too, Sonia was expected to accompany Rahul on his tour of Amethi but gave it a miss due to health reasons.

“The tussle for the chief ministerial posts in Rajasthan, MP and Chhattisgarh had Rahul on the edge which is when Priyanka stepped in and not only helped him decide but also spoke to the leaders in the fray to keep things amicable. Priyanka handles such tense situations effortlessly and has her own charm,” said a senior party functionary requesting anonymity.

While husband Robert Vadra wrote a Facebook post that read, “Congratulations P… always by your side in every phase of your life. Give it your best”, supporters and critics of the party pointed out that Vadra is set to be Priyanka’s Achilles heel with his alleged involvement in various dubious land deals.

 

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