‘I give a job, then...’: Rahul Gandhi on Priyanka’s new role in Congress
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the Congress’s brand new general secretary who has been tasked to revive the party in eastern Uttar Pradesh, would have a role beyond the country’s most-populous state. Congress president Rahul Gandhi had formalised his sister’s entry into the party last month when he appointed Priyanka as general secretary incharge of eastern UP. Jyotiraditya Scindia was tasked with the western part.
Rahul Gandhi had, since then, been ambivalent about her role outside Uttar Pradesh but party leaders had hinted that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, seen as a formidable campaigner, could be involved in other states as well.
“As a general secretary of the party, she has, by definition, a national role,” Rahul Gandhi said in an interview.
Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi suggested, was one of the four states where he hoped to see the Congress emerge much stronger.
In the 2014 general elections, the Congress ended up with just 2 seats from a state that sends 80 lawmakers to Lok Sabha. Rahul Gandhi’s Amethi seat, and mother Sonia Gandhi’s Rae Bareli.
Priyanka’s political plunge had been described as a ‘game changer’ by the Congress that declared the party was “all fired up and ready to go”.
Rahul Gandhi indicated that he had set his eyes on considerably improving the party’s performance in three other states.
“As Congress president, I am keen that the party is revived in UP, Bihar, Bengal and Tamil Nadu,” he said.
Rahul acknowledged it wasn’t going to be an easy task.
“That’s quite a big job – it’s not a small job. I am reorienting the Congress party towards successful completion of jobs. I give a job, and then I give another job based on the success of that job,” he said, without elaborating.
In Uttar Pradesh, the two big opposition parties, Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party and Mayawati’s Bahujan Samajwadi Party have already announced an alliance that keeps the Congress out. The two, however, have committed to not fielding candidates from Amethi and Rae Bareli that are held by Rahul Gandhi, and mother Sonia Gandhi.
Rahul Gandhi said he respected both, Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, and was fond of them. The Congress would “work with the SP and the BSP because we have ideological agreement on a number of issues with them”, he said. At the same time, he also spoke about pushing the Congress’s ideology in Uttar Pradesh.
So will there be some kind of a contest?
“Well, it is fluid,” he said, underscoring that he saw “political space in UP opening up for the Congress”.
“My personal view is that actually the Congress has a huge opportunity now because a space is going to open in Uttar Pradesh which is the Congress core space,” he said.