NEW DELHI: In a bid to make its mark in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is carefully drafting the campaign of its star campaigner and general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra so that she interacts with people of all faiths and visits places of worship to connect with people.
For instance, she undertook a three-day Ganga Yatra from Sangam to Varanasi on March 18-20 that included a boat ride and a road trip. Besides that, Priyanka Gandhi has visited many temples since she started the campaign.
Even during her campaign in Faizabad constituency, she visited the famous Hanumangarhi temple. However, she stayed away from the Ram temple in Ayodhya as the party felt it was sub judice. The three-day Awadh tour included visits to several temples.
In the last three weeks of the campaign, her stops at religious places included Bade Hanuman temple in Prayagraj, Sitamarhi temple in Bhadohi, Sheetla Mata temple, Vidhyachal temple and Chandrika Devi and Kantit Dargah Sharif in Mirzapur, Kashi Vishwanath temple and Dashwamedh and Assi Ghats in Varanasi.
“She is visiting places of all faiths. This is to ensure that an emotional connection is established with people. The travel route of Priyanka Gandhi is planned in a way that she visits some of the local temples in villages on her way. There is also focus on introducing her to local flavours, art, culture and traditions during the campaign so that she can easily connect with people,” a source explained.
It is significant as the Congress has often been accused of appeasing Muslims.
Congress president Rahul Gandhi too, in the last few years, has made it a point to visit major temples across the country to break that image.
While Priyanka Gandhi’s Bundelkhand tour in the first week of April was called off for some internal reasons, her campaign programme in key Purvanchal constituencies Jaunpur, Ghazipur, Azamgarh, Ballia and Chandauli is being worked out.
Gaurav Kapoor, secretary, Research Department, AICC, says that Priyanka Gandhi has reached out to people in areas that are low on the priorities of many political parties.
“Priyanka Gandhi ji is taking routes which no one in the political sphere has thought of, and reaching out to everyone, especially the Nishad, Bind, Mallah and others in parts of UP.
PM Modi may have been proclaiming that ‘Maa Ganga ne mujhe bulaya hai’, but Priyanka, by traversing down the Ganga, has reached out and connected with the people who live around the river and make a living from the river too,” said Kapoor, based in Varanasi.
Also on the radar of her planning team are religious places that are linked to specific communities, as in the case of her visit to the Shitla Mata Mandir in Adalpura village in Mirzapur.
It is said to be famous among Nishads.
The Nishad community has a population of around 2.6 per cent and can affect the election in the eastern UP seats of Varanasi, Azamgarh, Gorakhpur and Jaunpur.