Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Wednesday formally joined active politics in a surprise move that ended years of speculation over her political future and was hailed by Congress leaders as a “game changer” for the party ahead of the 2019 general elections.
In her first official assignment, Priyanka Gandhi, 47, has been appointed All-India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary incharge for eastern Uttar Pradesh, a crucial part of the country’s most populous and politically important state that includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Varanasi Lok Sabha constituency.
Rahul Gandhi’s decision to give a key party role to his sister underlines the significance of Uttar Pradesh to forming a government at the Centre.
“UP is central to building a new hope filled & compassionate India. The new UP AICC team lead by Priyanka & Jyotiraditya, will herald the dawn of a new kind of politics in the state. We will offer the youth in UP a dynamic new platform to transform the state,” Rahul Gandhi later tweeted.
Robert Vadra wrote in a Facebook post: “Congratulations P… always by your side in every phase of your life. Give it your best.”
BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, attacked the Congress over Priyanka Gandhi’s appointment, saying it highlighted its reliance on the dynastic politics. “In the BJP, we don’t take decisions on the basis of what a family or a person wants. Un logon ke liye, parivar hi party hai, lekin BJP mein party hi parivar hai [For those people, their family makes the party but for the BJP, the party is like a family],” Modi said in Maharashtra’s Baramati.
“Her [Priyanka Gandhi] appointment proves Rahul Gandhi has failed to leave a mark as Congress president,” Union law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said, adding that he wondered why she was given charge of only east UP.
Another former Union minister from UP, Jitin Prasada, said: “She is a game-changer. The politics in the Hindi heartland is about to change. With a new general in command, each UP Congress worker is battle-ready. She has not taken any position in a place where the Congress is doing well but taken a challenge head-on in a state where the party badly needs her.”
Congress president Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi represent the fifth generation of the Nehru-Gandhi family. Their father, Rajiv Gandhi, grandmother, Indira Gandhi, and great-grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru were all prime ministers who entered politics from Uttar Pradesh.