Priyanka Gandhi to campaign in Kerala for the first time today
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will campaign for the first time in south India with an election rally and corner meetings scheduled for her in Kerala on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The meetings, which coincide with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaigning in Kerala on Tuesday, signal a larger political responsibility for Priyanka Gandhi. The Congress general secretary has largely been focussing on Uttar Pradesh, where her party has been out of power for over three decades.
Priyanka Gandhi will visit Kollam, Thiruvananthapuram, and Thrissur as part of her campaign in Kerala. The Congress is hoping to wrest power in Kerala, where it swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by winning 15 out of 20 seats even as it lost the national polls for the second time in a row. Congress’s allies won four seats out of the remaining five in Kerala in 2019.
Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi has also been campaigning in Kerala, which has a history of switching parties in power every five years. The Congress poses a formidable challenge to the ruling Left Democratic Front, even as many believe the Pinarayi Vijayan government may retain power.
Priyanka Gandhi is likely to focus on corner meetings like Rahul Gandhi for a more direct connection with the voters. She will speak at one public rally. Priyanka Gandhi, one of the star campaigners of the party, earlier campaigned in another poll-bound state, Assam. Kerala is going to polls on April 2.
Priyanka Gandhi’s campaigning in Kerala also underlines the significance of the assembly elections in the state for the Congress. With a group of senior leaders demanding sweeping changes in the party and more space for themselves in the decision-making, victory in Assam or Kerala could consolidate Rahul Gandhi’s hold over the Congress ahead of the crucial organisational elections in June.
“In [other poll-bound states] West Bengal and Tamil Nadu, we are marginal entities. In Bengal, no one thinks we will be in a position to form a government, and in Tamil Nadu, any victory would be largely attributed to the success of DMK [Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam]. The Kerala and Assam polls are crucial for the party,” said a Congress strategist, requesting anonymity.
When Priyanka Gandhi will be in Kerala, Rahul Gandhi will be campaigning in Assam, the other key state for the party.
Congress leaders said her decision to join the Kerala campaign also signals the Congress is leaving no stones unturned to win the coastal state. Rahul Gandhi is a Parliament member from Kerala’s Wayanad.