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Ahead of elections, Priyanka’s role within Congress on gradual rise

By, New Delhi
Apr 08, 2024 08:55 AM IST

After confining her political activity in just a few pockets of UP for years, Priyanka Gandhi has finally expanded her role in campaigning for the 2024 LS polls

After confining her political activity in just a few pockets of Uttar Pradesh for years, Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has finally expanded her role in the campaigning for the 2024 Lok Sabha election. At the first rally of the opposition INDIA bloc in New Delhi’s Ramlila maidan on March 31, she not just read out the charter of demands of the alliance but invoked the Ramayana to hit out at the Narendra Modi government.

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra with Sonia Gandhi.(PTI Photo)
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra with Sonia Gandhi.(PTI Photo)

On Saturday, Gandhi Vadra attended a Congress rally in Jaipur over its manifesto. Again, she not only read out the Nyay Patra, or the manifesto, but delivered a speech attacking the Prime Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party. The signal was clear -- from here on Gandhi Vadra will be an important part of the national campaign of the Congress.

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To be sure, her tenure as general secretary has been far from inspiring. Two years ago, the Congress fought the Uttar Pradesh assembly election with Gandhi Vadra as in-charge. The party won just two seats as against seven in the last state election.

“Unemployment is at its peak. Unemployment has not been as high in 45 years as it is today. You have seen Modi ji’s government for 10 years, you have seen BJP’s government, and if you ask each other, go to neighbouring houses, look into your own houses, then what do you find out? To remove unemployment, he had made big promises, made big announcements, but he did not fulfil even a single one,” Gandhi Vadra said at the public rally in Jaipur in the presence of Congress president Mallikarjun Kharge and Sonia Gandhi.

Hitting out at Modi, she said, “All you hear is “400 paar”, you only hear where Modi ji is travelling. Sometimes they are flying in airplanes in the sky, in the air, sometimes they are down inside the sea, under water. So this is what you are seeing. But you are not seeing what the real conditions of this country are today. You are only seeing it in your life, you are seeing it in your experience, only you are recognizing your struggles. The government of this country is not recognizing it.”

Gandhi Vadra is set to campaign on a much wider canvas than she has ever done before, a Congress leader said, declining to be named. In her initial years in politics, she had confined herself to the family boroughs of Amethi and Raebareli and a few other areas of Uttar Pradesh.

As her brother Rahul Gandhi assumed bigger roles and particularly in the years of his party presidency, she had taken over the task of designing his campaign and helping him to manage the party. Over a period, she also emerged as an important power centre and a crisis manager for the party.

When the Congress was planning a change of guard in Punjab, Navjyot Singh Sidhu went to meet her in his bid to become the Punjab Congress chief. She also played a role in bringing five-time MP Pappu Yadav into the Congress fold, according to leader aware of the matter. A bunch of important Congress leaders such as Bhupesh Baghel, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu and Sachin Pilot are widely considered as a part of her core group.

At the Ramlila maidan rally, Gandhi Vadra didn’t shy away from invoking Lord Ram to counter the BJP’s campaign, just as she greeted the Jaipur rally with “Ram-Ram sa”.

“When I was a kid, I used to come (here) with my grandmother Indira Ji and she used to narrate the Ramayana to me. Those in power today call themselves Ram bhakts. When I was sitting here, I thought that I should say something to them. I want to remind them of the 1,000-year-old tale and its message,” she said at the Ramlila ground.

“When Lord Ram fought for truth, he did not have power, resources or even a chariot. Ravan had chariots, resources, army and gold, but Lord Ram had truth, hope, belief, love, kindness, modesty, patience, courage and truth,” Gandhi Vadra said. “I want to tell those in power and PM Narendra Modi that the message of Lord Ram’s life is that power is not permanent... and arrogance gets shattered.”

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