NEW DELHI: In recent months, the Congress perhaps has not wooed the voters of Uttar Pradesh with as much diligence as it has wooed Priyanka Gandhi. Finally, on Thursday she seems to have listened to their entreaties.
The first ‘official’ sign of Priyanka’s emergence from her brother Rahul Gandhi’s back-office into the larger space came in the form a list of the Congress party’s ‘star campaigners’ for the Hindi heartland state. Priyanka’s name is tucked in the ninth position in a roster of 40 other Congress luminaries, designated as ‘star’ campaigners, to be submitted to the Election Commission.
The list, indeed, is a dead giveaway that she has taken the leap of faith into a larger political canvas, beyond the family pocket borough of Amethi-Rae Bareli-Sultanpur in UP.
The reason why every election such a list is prepared by the political parties for submission to the EC is to ensure that the travel expenses incurred by the ‘stars’ when they campaign for the party in general, their visits to the constituencies are not added on to the candidate’s expenditure account.
However, there’s little doubt that Priyanka’s leap into the ‘formal’ Congress party space was prompted by self-interest. Her determination to safeguard the family pocket-borough in UP against any political inroads, as a party insider admitted. Last Assembly elections saw seven Samajwadi Party members winning in the Congress stronghold.
With the BJP too making no-holds-bar efforts to break into the Amethi-Sultanpur bastion, Priyanka had little option but to get into the thick of party politics. Till now, she had restricted her activities to managing job her mother and brother’s parliamentary constituencies, Amethi and Rae Bareli.
Ironically, it is her role as deliverer of these two ‘star’ seats of the family to the Congress fold against all odds that Priyanka forced to become a star campaigner of the Congress party— from the micro-managing to the macro level.
Sources in the Congress admit that Priyanka ‘’literally’’ steered the party into an alliance with the SP and ‘’did not leave it to anyone’’.
Priyanka also went out of her way to befriend Dimple Yadav, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav’s wife.
The biggest change in the coming UP elections, therefore, would be the posters of Priyanka and Dimple taking Mayawati and BJP’s star campaigner Narendra Modi.