Priyanka enters politics, appointed as AICC Gen Sec

Priyanka enters politics, appointed as AICC Gen Sec

Priyanka's 'official' entry to the politics comes ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. PTI file photo

The Congress on Wednesday played its trump card by appointing Priyanka Gandhi as the AICC general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, just three months before the Lok Sabha polls.

With this move, the party aims to checkmate the Narendra Modi impact on the poll outcome in the region.

The formal entry of Priyanka (47) into national politics, a demand being raised by different sections in the party for years, could have far-reaching ramifications at a time when the BJP is fighting a tough election, with the Modi factor subsiding amid the challenge of caste calculus by regional parties in the Hindi-belt.

Since it’s a double-edged move with all the potential to fuel a BJP chorus of dynasty-politics and Rahul-Gandhi-fails, the Congress has played safe, confining Priyanka’s role to a few seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh.

Along with Priyanka’s foray beyond the family pocket boroughs of Raebareli and Amethi, the Congress also announced the name of Jyotiraditya Scindia as the AICC general secretary for Western Uttar Pradesh.

Priyanka has of late been dabbling in national politics and there were hush-hush confirmations by party leaders about her increased role in far-reaching decisions like propping up JD(S)’ H D Kumaraswamy as Karnataka Chief Minister.

The party was also keen to counter any impression that Priyanka’s arrival cut into the influence of party president Rahul Gandhi. It is projecting her role as ‘complimentary’ and not ‘supplementary’. Priyanka will take charge in February, almost a month before the poll schedule is likely to be announced.

Rahul announced, “I have given a mission to Priyanka and Jyotiraditya Scindia in Uttar Pradesh” to work to strengthen the Congress ideology. He also expressed happiness that his “very capable and hard-working” sister will work with him.

The BJP was quick to portray the Congress decision as an acknowledgement of Rahul’s “failure”. Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad rubbed it in, while wishing “good luck” to Priyanka. He wondered why she was given a “limited role” as “her persona perhaps merited a wider role”.

BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra was acerbic. “The Congress has publicly announced the failures of its president Rahul Gandhi,” he said. At a time when the party has been “rejected” by the Opposition grand alliance in UP and likely in Bihar, it is getting “crutches” too from the family, he said.

 

“New India is asking why only one family is there from Nehru to Indira to Rajiv to Rahul to Priyanka. That is the fundamental difference between the Congress and the BJP. In BJP, the party is the family. In Congress, the family is the party,” Patra said.

Congress workers were, however, jubilant. In Allahabad, the home district of Nehru-Gandhi family, activists shouted: “The slogan in every village is Sister Priyanka, who will burn the Lanka of Modi.”

The charge of eastern UP is significant as Varanasi, the parliamentary seat of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Gorakhpur, the strong bastion of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath (which he lost in a bypoll last year) where his mutt is located, fall in the region.

Eastern UP borders Bihar and Priyanka’s activities in the region is expected to electrify Congress workers in both states, which together have 120 Lok Sabha seats (80 in UP and 40 in Bihar).

Apart from Priyanka and Scindia, AICC general secretary K C Vengugopal has been given the charge of the organisation in addition to Karnataka.