Priyanka is expected to join the battle on February 10 by addressing a rally in Uttar Pradesh(E).
The stage has been set for the “Mahabharat” of the next general elections and the key battleground is the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. The twists and turns that make politics exciting and often resemble one day cricket are witnessing another sharp maneuver.
Congress, which had been pushed into the margins after its worst ever performance in the 16th Lok Sabha, has decided to counter its rivals by a carefully thought-out tactical push of making Priyanka Gandhi Vadra its general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh East. She faces an unenviable task of reviving the Congress fortunes in the state which sends 80 members to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament.
Priyanka is expected to join the battle on February 10 by addressing a rally in the region allotted to her. It should be noted that east UP has elected many BJP stalwarts including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath in recent years.
In a major organizational restructuring, Jyotiraditya Scindia, who was a contender for chief ministership of Madhya Pradesh, has been asked to hold the fort in the caste-ridden and communally sensitive western Uttar Pradesh. Congress veteran Ghulam Nabi Azad, who had long overseen party affairs in the country’s populous state, will now handle Haryana. As the political idiom goes, the road to New Delhi passes through Lucknow.
KC Venugopal, an articulate member of the Lok Sabha, is now general secretary (organization) apart from being responsible for Karnataka. The Janata Dal (S)-Congress government in Karnataka has seen efforts by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to topple it. The rise of Venugopal underlines the important role that Congress president Rahul Gandhi has for the Kerala leader. He replaces Rajasthan chief minister Ashok Gehlot, who was till now holding this additional role.
Though there is no official word on Priyanka Vadra entering the election fray, political circles are rife with speculation that she may contest from Rae Bareli in place of her ailing mother Sonia Gandhi. The appointments today also signal Rahul Gandhi’s attempts to put in place a team for the Lok Sabha elections that are likely to be announced in the first week of March.
The Gandhi scion had allowed the old guard within the party to have its way in the recent Assembly elections. The move had allowed Amarinder Singh, Ashok Gehlot, and Kamal Nath to hold sway in their respective states. These stalwarts had cut their teeth in the politics of the 1980s and many felt their becoming Chief Ministers would delay the emergence of the Generation Next in the grand old party.
The decision to put Priyanka Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, where regional parties Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have been hell-bent on marginalizing the Congress, is aimed at upsetting local and caste alliances and make a bid to revive the grand old party’s fortunes. The move will force the BJP and other regional parties to redraw their strategies for the dance of democracy due early this year. A calibrated response may be known in coming days from the parties that have gained substantially at the Congress’ expense in recent years.
Uttar Pradesh had been a stronghold of the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi family until the party lost out in the “Mandal-Kamandal” politics of the 1990s, which pushed it out of the center stage. Will the gamble pay off has to be seen? The truth will be known when the results of the 17th Lok Sabha elections are out in the middle of May.
The latest announcement is expected to increase the Congress party’s bargaining power vis-à-vis the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) in Bihar. There had been reports that the Bihar stalwart Lalu Prasad Yadav was not inclined to concede many seats to the grand old party as he was upset over Congress plans to induct Pappu Yadav, Lovely Singh and Anant Singh in the party.
Will the move bring a bonanza for the Congress remains? The answer to that questions will be out this May.