Priyanka takes political plunge
Named General Secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh
NEW DELHI: Playing his trump card, Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday pushed his sister Priyanka Gandhi into taking the plunge into active politics by appointing her as the party General Secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, where the SP-BSP alliance ahead of the Lok Sabha polls has pushed the Congress to the corner.
Priyanka Gandhi's appointment, a gamble by Rahul, is aimed at galvanising the Congress cadre in the state where it has been marginalised over the years and where the BJP swept a whopping 71 of the 80 seats Lok Sabha seats in 2014.
Shortly after the appointment, Rahul Gandhi told reporters that naming Priyanka Gandhi and Jotiraditya Scindia as General Secretaries for Uttar Pradesh was a "big step" to spread the party's "real" ideology for poor and weaker sections and to rebuild its base.
However, he sought to strike a conciliatory note towards the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), saying the Congress will cooperate with them to defeat the BJP in whatever ways possible.
With this, Priyanka Gandhi, married to businessman Robert Vadra and mother of two children, makes a full-fledged entry into politics casting aside her earlier role that was mainly confined to the constituencies of Sonia Gandhi (Rae Bareli) and Rahul Gandhi (Amethi).
From the first week of February, she will assume her new charge in eastern Uttar Pradesh, considered the home turf of Chief Minister and BJP's 'Hindutva' poster-boy Yogi Adityanath.
"It would be too early to predict the impact of the decision, but it's certainly put Congress back in the race," the experts said, adding that Priyanka has inherited her grandmother Indira Gandhi's charisma.
She was earlier actively involved in critical decision making in the party along with her mother and brother, including the selection of new chief ministers for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh recently, experts said.
Meanwhile, the BJP has accused Congress of doing dynasty politics. Commenting on the development, Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, "Since for Congress, the party is a family concern, these kinds of postings are nothing unusual except to say with the caveat as to why she has been given the role of in-charge of only eastern UP. Perhaps her persona narrates a much wider role for her."
The Congress chief has appointed KC Venugopal as general secretary Organisation in place of Ashok Gehlot. Venugopal will also continue to be AICC general secretary for Karnataka, where the party is in power with the Janata Dal (Secular).