New Delhi: The long wait of the Congress party’s workers may finally be over with media reports saying party chief Sonia Gandhi’s daughter, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, is likely to join active politics soon.
According an English daily, Priyanka may take the formal plunge into active politics by the end of this year, after provincial polls in five states slated for the last quarter of this year.
In all likelihood, Priyanka would be made a national general secretary of the party and be put in charge of the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.
A revival of the party in Uttar Pradesh and neighbouring Bihar is critical for the 128-year-old party, which encountered its worst ever electoral defeat in the May general elections by winning just 44 seats in the 543-member Lok Sabha.
The Congress party won just two of the 80 Lok Sabha seats of Uttar Pradesh. Priyanka played a hand as she confined her campaigning to Rae Bareli and Amethi constituencies, helping mother Sonia Gandhi and elder brother Rahul Gandhi emerge victorious.
Reports say that Priyanka would directly report to Rahul who is vice-president of the party headed by their mother Sonia.
While demands for Priyanka’s initiation into active politics have been there for long, Sonia is believed to have blocked all such moves in the past fearing she may overshadow her elder sibling as she is seen as a fluent speaker with sharp political brains. Many see shadows of her illustrious grandmother Indira Gandhi in Priyanka.
The extremely poor result in the Lok Sabha polls and Rahul’s inability to charm the Indian voters may have compelled Sonia to consider active role for Priyanka now in view of growing demands that the party has to look beyond Rahul to revive itself.
Priyanka, 42, had in the past put to rest all speculations about her political ambitions by saying she would be anything Rahul deems fit for her, indirectly hinting that she may not come in his way and play just a supportive role.
Sonia, on her part, blocked any question about future role of Priyanka in politics by saying her children Miraya and Raihan were her top priority. Priyanka is married to businessman Robert Vadra who is accused of amassing wealth through speculative land deals during the 10 years of the Congress party rule that ended with defeat in May this year.
Sources in the Congress party suggest that a greater role for Priyanka had become imminent considering Sonia’s restricted movements due to her undisclosed illness that requires her to fly out to US for treatment on a regular basis and failure of Rahul to enthuse party workers and charm voters due to his reticent style of politics.
Priyanka on the other hand is outspoken, has a sharp political brain and is a spontaneous speaker.
Priyanka’s impending appointment as general secretary in-charge for Uttar Pradesh may pitch her directly against cousin Varun Gandhi, a parliamentarian of the arch-rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Varun’s mother and federal minister Maneka Gandhi has already let go the test balloon by indirectly pitching for Varun as BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for 2017 assembly elections in the state. BJP has not gone beyond saying that it’s too early to talk about leadership issue in Uttar Pradesh.
While the demoralised Congress party circles have reacted positively to the news about Priyanka’s possible plunge into active politics soon, India’s ruling BJP took a jibe at the development.
“As all know Congress (party) starts from Sonia’s home to Rahul’s drawing room and ends at Priyanka’s lawn,” BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi said.