All eyes on Priyanka as she storms Uttar Pradesh

All eyes on Priyanka as she storms Uttar Pradesh

Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sits in protest on the roadside, after she was stopped from proceeding to Sonbhadra to meet victims of clash that claimed 10 lives, in Mirzapur. (PTI Photo)

With Rahul Gandhi staying away from party affairs, his sister and AICC General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Friday pitched herself on political centre stage by staging a sit-in in Uttar Pradesh, to protest the killing of 10 tribals over a land dispute.

Priyanka's dramatic protest and subsequent arrest by the UP police energised the Congress, which was thrown in a disarray after its humiliating defeat in the Lok Sabha elections and the shock resignation of president Rahul Gandhi.

Congress leaders, who are busy searching for a successor to Rahul, rallied behind Priyanka by carrying out demonstrations and marches across several states against her arrest and denouncing Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the law and order situation in the state.

AICC General Secretary (organisation) K C Venugopal issued missives to the state units of the party to carry out demonstrations to register protest against the arrest of Priyanka and atrocities against the common man by the BJP government.

“You are requested to ensure maximum participation in the dharna/demonstration,” Venugopal said in the letter to state unit presidents, AICC General Secretaries and in-charges of states and frontal organisations.

Outgoing Congress president Rahul Gandhi described the arrest of Priyanka as “illegal” and “disturbing”.

“This arbitrary application of power, to prevent her from meeting families of the 10 adivasi farmers brutally gunned down for refusing to vacate their own land, reveals the BJP Govt’s increasing insecurity in UP,” Rahul said.

Since Rahul conveyed to the party leadership that he was firm on stepping down as Congress president, there have been demands from a section of the party that Priyanka be appointed as his successor.

Rahul, at the Congress Working Committee (CWC) meeting on May 25, had told the party to look beyond the Gandhi family for leadership of the organisation, thus firmly conveying his opposition to any role for sister Priyanka or mother Sonia.

Only on Thursday, Priyanka had dropped hints that she was in for a long haul in politics by recalling how anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela had told her that she ought to be in politics.

“To me, he was Uncle Nelson (who told me I ought to be in politics long before anyone else did!). He will always be my inspiration and my guide,” Priyanka had said on Thursday.

Priyanka's sudden storming on the scene in Uttar Pradesh appeared to have pushed well-entrenched regional outfits Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party to the margins, with Congress assuming center stage.