LUCKNOW: Drumbeats rent the air as jubilant Congress workers were seen celebrating as soon as they got the news of the plunge taken by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra into active politics after being appointed in-charge of party affairs in eastern UP.
Amid the chanting of slogans in praise of Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and Sonia Gandhi, there were several rounds of sweet distribution among Congress workers.
In no time, there were banners and posters eulogising Rahul and Priyanka around the Congress office in the state capital. Amethi and Rae Bareli, the Gandhis’ pocket borough, also witnessed the same joy and jubilation among Congressmen who were bursting crackers and playing with colours.
While in Amethi, posters projecting Congress chief Rahul Gandhi as the next PM were already in place in the wake of his visit to his parliamentary constituency, posters showing Priyanka as an incarnation
of Goddess Durga came up in Lucknow soon after the reports of her induction into the party. There were also posters saying “Indira is back” with pictures of Priyanka comparing her to her grandmother.
“The appointment of Priyankaji as party general secretary will instil new energy, hope, and confidence among Congress workers,” said UP Congress leader Umashankar Pandey.
“We have been demanding this for so long in UP. Our wish has been fulfilled and now we are battle ready to go into the polls with full energy,” said Manoj Mishra, another UP Congress leader.
Most state Congress leaders and workers pinned their hopes on Priyanka’s formal entry into politics. The grand old party, otherwise, had been fighting a battle of survival in the country’s politically most crucial state with just two MPs in Lok Sabha and seven MLAs in UP Assembly.
“The party might have made her eastern UP in-charge, but her active presence in the party will invigorate Congress workers not only across UP but the whole country,” said Satyadeo Tripathi while claiming that Rahul’s latest move would prove to be a game changer in UP politics and would strengthen the party organisation in the state.
Tripathi also claimed that after the big announcement, the BJP was bowled over and scared of the Congress. “They know that they are losing ground in UP,” he maintained.
On the contrary, the BJP refused to accept the induction of Priyanka Gandhi as any challenge to its fight in Uttar Pradesh and called it another step to consolidate dynastic politics in the country.
The majority of state BJP leaders felt that the decision was taken to keep the party affairs restricted to one family.
“We welcome her in active politics but this also proves once again that Congress is a family trust which has positions reserved for members of the Gandhi family,” said BJP state spokesman Dr Chandra
Mohan. He claimed that Congress’s latest move was an acknowledgment of party chief Rahul Gandhi’s failure as Priyanka was brought in to serve as a crutch for Rahul Gandhi.
Similar views were expressed by a number of BJP leaders including Minister of State for External Affairs Gen VK Singh, who was in Varanasi. “Appointment of Priyanka Gandhi will not impact the prospects of BJP in any way,” said the minister.
Samajwadi Party leaders also scoffed at the move and said it was an internal affair of the Congress Party. “We welcome the entry of youths and women in politics and decision making. However, SP-BSP alliance in UP is capable of defeating the NDA in the state,” said SP leader Abdul Hafeez.
He added: “Every political party, including Congress, has the right to contest elections but we think SP-BSP is a major force which has delivered strong results in bypolls.” Another SP leader Sunil Singh said the appointment of Priyanka Gandhi would not weave any magic in UP.
The day was significant for the Congress party but the onus would be on Priyanka to prove her political mettle and charisma among the voters.
Talking to a few young voters, who make a considerable 25 lakhs of UP electorate, gave a sense of their political maturity.
“Politics is much beyond glamour and charisma related to a family. Let Priyanka prove her political maturity,” said Ashish Singh, a student of MBA in Lucknow University.
“Entry of Priyanka Gandhi may make the upcoming elections a bit more interesting and colourful but the country needs to move ahead of a single family. Congress is not a force in UP,” felt Neha Pandey, a student of BA third year, Lucknow University.
However, Utkarsh, 23, of Amethi felt that it would make some improvement in Congress’s performance in UP. “My family has been voting for Gandhi family all this long. Hope things will be better now,” he