Priyanka to counter saffron push in Raebareli

In picture:  Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. PTI file photo.

Apparently wary of the BJP's attempts to make a dent in former Congress president Sonia Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency of Raebareli, the local party leaders want Congress star campaigner and Sonia's daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to become "more active" in the constituency to counter the saffron party's advances.

The Congress suffered a setback in Raebareli when party MLC Dinesh Pratap Singh, a Gandhi family loyalist for several decades, joined the BJP on Friday.

BJP president Amit Shah and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath also addressed a rally in Raebareli on the same day.

A section of the local leaders of the Congress have asked Priyanka to think about contesting the next Lok Sabha polls from Raebareli.

"We have requested Priyankaji to become more active in Raebareli... she knows the constituency more than anyone else and has also been the in-charge of Sonia's election campaign here," said a senior Congress leader in Raebareli.

The local leaders feel that owing to her illness, Sonia Gandhi has not been able to give much time to her constituency.

She visited Raebareli on Thursday after a year and a half. Even then, she did not attend the 'janata darbar' and her son and Congress president Rahul Gandhi had to fill in for her.

"Sonia's long absence has given a chance to the rivals here... they feel that they can make a dent," the Congress leader said.

According to the sources in the Congress, the party was trying to woo some senior local leaders from the BJP and other Opposition parties to counter the saffron push. 

During her recent visit, Sonia had a meeting with former UP minister and senior Samajwadi Party (SP) leader Manoj Pandey triggering speculations that the latter was set to join the Congress.

Sources said that Priyanka was likely to visit Raebareli in the near future.

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