NEW DELHI: With trends projecting a defeat for Congress in both Maharashtra and Haryana, a group of party workers gathered outside the AICC office here demanding that Priyanka Gandhi join active politics.
This is not the first time that such a demand has been made but it has repeatedly been snubbed by Priyanka, who had even issued a terse statement sometime back asking people to eschew from such speculation.
Waving posters, which read ''Priyanka Lao Congress Bachao' (Bring Priyanka; Save Congress)', 200 to 250 party workers, a larger number of them women, appealed to party vice-president Rahul Gandhi to take the initiative to bring his sister into politics.
"We appeal to Rahul ji to bring Priyanka Gandhi into active politics of Congress at a time when the party is passing through tough times. She can supplement him in stopping the march of Narendra Modi," a worker said outside the party office.
Some of the party workers gathered outside said that had Priyanka been brought earlier and campaigned in both states, the Assembly election results in Maharashtra and Haryana could have been different.
Indian National Trade Union Congress (INTUC) leader Jagdish Sharma, who led the group, said the successive defeat of the party in elections make it now all the more necessary to bring Priyanka into active politics of the party to better its prospects.
"Had Priyanka Gandhi campaigned for the party in Maharasthra and Haryana, the results could have been different. In Lok Sabha polls, there was a talk of Narendra Modi wave. At that time Priyanka Gandhi was given responsibility to campaign for Raebareli and Amethi and Congress won there," Sharma, who is the National Vice President of INTUC, told PTI.
He said Congress workers are "sad" with such results for the party and feel that it's time that Priyanka is given an important responsibility in Congress for which "Rahul Gandhi, himself should take initiative."
Seeking to scotch speculation about her taking up a significant post in the Congress, Priyanka had in August dismissed it as "conjecture" and "baseless rumours".
"The constant conjecture about my assuming various posts in the Congress and the manner in which this issue is brought up at opportune moments is incorrect," she had said.
"I would be very grateful to all concerned if they desisted from encouraging such baseless rumours," she said.
Her remarks apparently sought to put a lid on speculation that she could formally join the party either in the capacity of a general secretary in the AICC or the chief of UP Congress.
Sonia Gandhi is Congress President and Rahul is Vice President.
Days before Priyanka's remarks setting the record right, senior Congress leader and Gandhi family loyalist Oscar Fernandes had said that Priyanka should have a more active role in the Congress" and that she should take up an "important responsibility".
When asked if Priyanka's entry would not be treated as a vote of no-confidence in Rahul, he had said, "There is no comparison. Rahul is vice-president of the party, Sonia is president. Another member of the Gandhi family would strengthen the party."
A few months ago, a top leader had indicated that Priyanka's role would not be of replacing Rahul but supplementing him in running the party.
The speculation of Priyanka's larger role in the party was also interpreted in the media as "diminishing" role for Rahul, an interpretation, which was stoutly rejected by the party leaders in public.