Congress pitches UP role for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra
New Delhi:Even as Congress is officially tight-lipped, senior leaders on Wednesday asked the high command to nominate Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as chief campaigner for the forthcoming UP elections and accentuate the process of anointing Rahul Gandhi as president of the party.
A senior party leader at the AICC headquarters said some senior ministers in the government were busy cooking up stories against the Gandhi family, particularly Priyanka, to prevent them from taking political command.
“Politically, the best strategy is to take the battle upfront and bring both Rahul and Priyanka to the forefront,” the Congress leader said.
Priyanka’s businessman husband Robert Vadra faces charges of owning ‘benami’ properties in London and having a close contact with arms dealer Sanjay Bhandari.
Unlike in the past, when the Gandhi family would not contest allegations against them, Congress president Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday said the allegation of corruption against her son-in-law was a ‘conspiracy’. She dared the government to hold a fair investigation. “They keep conspiring against the Congress. Every day, they are making one or the other false allegations against us,” she said.
Sources indicate a re-jig in the party organisation is possible before June 7 when Rahul Gandhi plans to go abroad for a vacation. They said that his sister Priyanka, though already involved in UP affairs behind-the-scenes, along with party strategist Prashant Kishor might be handed the responsibility of the state. “If Priyanka assumes official responsibility of UP, she will be effectively assimilated into the Congress fold. There has been a loud chorus for Priyanka Gandhi to lead the UP campaign,” sources said.
“We are a national party. There are certain procedures…When it comes to Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi, we all wholeheartedly accept their leadership. We all want Rahul to take over as and when (it will happen), we will make a proper statement,” party spokesperson Sushmita Dev said.
In Chandigarh, Punjab Congress chief Capt Amarinder Singh said time is right for Rahul Gandhi to take over from his mother as Congress president. He favoured Priyanka’s entry into active politics. “Sonia Gandhi is a brilliant leader. I have said that she has been working (as Congress president) for the last 20 years. If she feels that time has come to pass on the mantle to a new generation, then she should pass it on, and we will fully support Rahul,” Singh told a news conference.
The AICC headquarters is abuzz with reports that the Congress Working Committee will be meeting soon to discuss threadbare the situation caused by the party’s debacle in Assembly elections in four states. Holding of a ‘Chintan Shivir’ to brainstorm the losses, among other things, is also being talked about.
As part of strategy, the party is also planning to release manifestos for each assembly constituency rather than a state-wise one. Poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who has floated the idea, has also secured the lists of 100 to 125 dedicated party workers in each constituency from the district Congress presidents. He also faced the problem when some DCC presidents furnished bogus mobile numbers and maybe bogus names. He rang up each of the presidents and told them that party vice-president Rahul Gandhi was annoyed after getting numbers to which he cannot call. These party workers are supposed to fan out to the constituency on their motorbikes every day to feel the pulse of the people and give their feedback to Kishor’s team on the issues in each constituency that the party should take up for the elections.
They said Kishor has also furnished a report on the state of preparedness to Rahul on the basis of the feedback by his own teams which travelled to each and every constituency.
He has identified 125 “winnable” seats for the Congress, including 60 that were lost by the party by less than 5,000 votes in the last elections in 2012 when it had won 28 seats.
Going by his estimate, the Congress can definitely win 80 seats but that will not be sufficient and hence to rope in Priyanka Vadra and to explore credible electoral alliances, sources added.
Posted by ZI Mark
on June 2, 2016. Filed under Regional
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