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HindustanTimes Tue,30 Sep 2014

In Cong war room, Priyanka gets assertive, drives strategy

Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 16, 2014
First Published: 08:11 IST(16/4/2014) | Last Updated: 13:37 IST(16/4/2014)

In a recent closed-door meeting, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s key aides were juggling ways to accommodate a long list of her engagements. Scheduling a meeting with a key party veteran — an expert back-channel negotiator for Congress president Sonia Gandhi and an ace alliance-maker — was proving to be a problem. Priyanka intervened quickly and told the team to give top priority to that meeting even if it meant postponing other ones.

This Congressman had failed to make a smooth transition into the core team of her brother and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. But since February, as Priyanka has got deeply involved in the affairs of the Congress, one of her first steps was to reach out to old warhorses like him.

Read: Happening in 2014 LS polls: Priyanka Gandhi, seen and heard more than ever before

A more assertive, even aggressive, Priyanka is emerging. From strong words of advice to cousin Varun Gandhi to taking on BJP’s PM candidate Narendra Modi to deciding on the party’s overall campaign strategy, no major election-related decision is taken without keeping her in the loop.

Top sources claim that Priyanka played a key role in shifting sitting Congress MP Sanjay Singh from Sultanpur to an Assam Rajya Sabha seat. She had organised Congress’ Vikas Khoj Yatra in Gujarat to try and expose Modi’s government’s failure in social and certain economic indices. The reports on the lack of development have now become the party’s mainstay in its campaign against Modi’s ‘Gujarat model’.

“She was very clear that the only way to attack Modi was on development. She often reminds us that the Congress still commands around 40% votes in Gujarat,” said a Priyanka associate.

When in Delhi, she holds marathon meetings with senior leaders almost daily. While she lives in a Lutyens’ bungalow, she prefers to manage party work from her brother’s office at 12, Tughlaq Lane. This has also resulted in the shift of poll strategy-related activities from Congress ‘war room’ in 15, Gurdwara Rakabganj Road to Rahul’s home.

Read: Manmohan Singh only super PM in UPA govt: Priyanka

“Priyanka is already helping her brother and the party a lot. She is a great organiser and all election tours of Rahul and Sonia are essentially planned by her,” family friend Sam Pitroda had recently told HT. “Rahul is currently overburdened and there is a need to share responsibilities. She may come in the forefront of the campaign although she prefers the backroom role and coordination for her brother and the party.”

Insiders also claim that she is more accessible than her brother and always speaks to her colleagues with warmth. Some key Raul aides like Kanishka Singh also do secretarial duties for her.

Read: Priyanka has crossed 'lakshman rekha of decency': Varun

“One of her best aspects is that she never loses her cool,” said a source close to her.


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