As the Congress and Samajwadi Party finally stitched a pact for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh election, it was a major success for Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Vadra, who, for the first time, was actively involved in alliance negotiations.
Confirming the role played by Priyanka, Sonia’s political secretary Ahmed Patel said, “Wrong to suggest lightweights were dealing on behalf of Congress party. Discussion was at highest level- b/w CM (UP),GS I/C & Priyanka Gandhi.” GS I/C is abbreviation for Congress general secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad who is in charge of UP.
Leaving behind the bitter past of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi tearing up SP’s manifesto at a public rally, the two sides joined hands, creating history in the politically crucial state that will votes in seven phases. This is the first time that the Samajwadi Party formed a poll alliance with any national party for elections.
“We were clear that ups and downs might take place during negotiations but the communication channel should not be snapped,” said a Congress leader who didn’t want to be named.
This was the first time that Priyanka has been actively involved in negotiations regarding an alliance with any party. Till now, she has been an important part of internal discussions on the party’s strategy for the Uttar Pradesh polls – Lok Sabha as well as assembly elections. She has even drawn up campaign plan, especially that of her mother and brother besides given her inputs on the selection of candidates.
While Priyanka held talks with Akhilesh, sources said Azad and Ramgopal Yadav, Akhilesh’s uncle and party’s key strategist, kept in touch. Azad had been regularly updating both Rahul and Priyanka on the outcome of his talks with the SP leaders. Congress consultant Prashant Kishore remained in touch with chief minister Akhilesh Yadav while Rahul and Priyanka remained in touch with him on phone and through intermediaries.
Congress leaders have maintained that Priyanka’s presence will boost confidence and re-energise not only party workers but also the people across the state. Till now, she has restricted her election campaign only to the family borough of Amethi constituency, represented by Rahul, and Rae Bareli constituency, represented by Sonia.