Priyanka Gandhi card: Will it turn tables for Congress in Uttar Pradesh?

The one who wins the heart of Uttar Pradesh gets the Centre. The state has 80 Lok Sabha seats — the largest of any state. So it is obvious that winning in Uttar Pradesh remains the top agenda of any political party as it easily paves way to New Delhi. This year the electoral contest has taken an intriguing turn with the Congress deciding to play its trump card — Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

On Wednesday (January 23), the Congress announced the official debut of Priyanka Gandhi in active politics by giving her the role of a general secretary for Uttar Pradesh. Lok Sabha elections 2019 are due in the next few months and with Priyanka’s debut the Congress has made sure that it remains in this race.

The decision did take most political observers by surprise. The questions that crop up with Priyanka’s appointment are: Is this good time to officially step on the political stage? And is UP the best place? Has the Congress gifted away the state? Has it just made things easier for the rival Bharatiya Janata Party?

“I am very happy that my sister Priyanka will assist me in UP in the Lok Sabha polls. She is very capable,” said Rahul Gandhi. But is she only here to assist her brother? The decision of the Congress leadership will, of course, boost the morale of the workers. But it also raises a question about Rahul Gandhi’s leadership. Priyanka Gandhi obviously chose to stay away from politics for a reason. But her stepping out of the shadows a year after Rahul took over as Congress chief can be read as vote of no confidence on Rahul’s leadership.

Opposition leaders have always questioned his capabilities as a leader. Though he has managed to revive the Congress to some extent with the recent wins in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh but his leadership quality is not extolled by many. Priyanka’s entry has given the BJP the opportunity it was waiting for.

“Congress has accepted that Rahul Gandhiji has failed,” said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra without wasting a minute after the announcement.

Priyanka Gandhi’s formal entry also means that now she is on the radar for personal attacks. Her husband Robert Vadra is already being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate for his land deals in Haryana and Rajasthan. Knowing BJP, it would use the Vadra card and go all out in its attack on the Congress and Priyanka Gandhi.