Priyanka Gandhi to exercise more clout in Congress
The 41-year-old daughter of Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday met key party strategists at the residence of her brother and party vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Among those who were present at the meeting included political secretary to Congress president Ahmed Patel, AICC general secretaries Janardhan Dwivedi, Madhusudan Mistry and Ajay Maken, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and academician-turned-politician and key Rahul aide Mohan Gopal.
Though Priyanka is an active member of the Congress, she does not hold any post in the party.
The meeting comes ahead of the January 17 meeting of the All India Congress Committee (AICC) and amid growing demand from the party to declare Rahul as the prime ministerial candidate.
Senior leaders, including those who attended it, initially denied that such a meeting ever took place and refused to hazard a guess.
In a brief statement to the media, Dwivedi said Priyanka was a member of a prominent political family and has her own views on politics.
“She may not be seen as participating in active politics but she is an active member of the Congress for long.
She has her own opinions on political issues and has been discussing with party workers from time to time. What is so surprising if she has talked to senior leaders of the party on these issues,” he said.
The buzz in the party circles is that after projecting Rahul as the prime ministerial candidate, Priyanka may shoulder the responsibility of managing his campaign.
Congress sources said Priyanka was present for barely five minutes at the meeting of senior leaders, which lasted for about 50 minutes.
Till now, Priyanka has been maintaining a low profile and nurturing Amethi and Rae Bareli, the constituencies of Rahul and Sonia respectively. She had also played a key role in preparing the speech Rahul delivered at the Congress chintan shivir in Jaipur last January, where he was declared vice president of the party. “Obviously, she will have to,” a senior leader said on condition of anonymity, when asked whether Priyanka will expand her role in the party.
Another leader saw the meeting as a precursor of things to come in the future but ruled out her role overshadowing that of Rahul.
“She may remain in the background and focus more on strategising,” the leader said.
Another leader dismissed as “wild speculation” the possibility of Priyanka being named as the prime ministerial candidate and Rahul being elevated as the Congress president.
An AICC secretary said the Rahul-Priyanka duo would prove effective in blunting the challenge posed by BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi and new entrant Aam Aadmi Party.
A section of the leadership felt that a larger role for Priyanka in the nationwide election campaign would benefit the Congress a great deal.
A meeting of the Congress Working Committee is scheduled on January 16, a day ahead of the AICC meeting and a clearer picture would emerge only after that, a senior leader said. A few months back, the Allahabad City Congress had passed a resolution demanding that Priyanka be fielded from Phoolpur, the parliamentary constituency of Jawaharlal Nehru.
The Congress had reacted angrily to such suggestions and even suspended the party workers concerned.