She will take over her new assignment in the politically crucial state ― a Congress bastion till the mid 1980s ― from the first week of February, a statement from the party said.
Priyanka Gandhi, who turned 47 on 12 January, will assist her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the Hindi heartland state, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the largest of any state in the country. Eastern UP includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi.
Rahul Gandhi also appointed senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia as AICC general secretary for Uttar Pradesh West.
The Congress chief appointed KC Venugopal as general secretary Organisation. He replaces Ashok Gehlot, who has since become chief minister of Rajasthan.
The Congress announced the appointments on Twitter, saying “We’re fired up & ready to go.”
Rahul Gandhi also reacted to the announcement, saying that he is personally very happy that his sister will work with him.
“I am very happy that my sister Priyanka will assist me in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha polls, she is very capable,” he said.
Reactions soon started pouring in with the BJP saying Priyanka’s appointment is Congress’ admission of Rahul Gandhi’s “failure”.
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra said the Congress president has opted for a “family alliance” after facing “rejection” from various parties of the proposed grand alliance.
“The Congress has basically publicly announced that Rahul Gandhi has failed and needs crutches from within the family. Because of his rejection by grand alliance parties, he has opted for a family alliance,” he said.
Union minister JP Nadda also tweeted that it “is also the first official declaration from Congress that they don’t have trust in Rahul Gandhi’s leadership.”
Senior BJP leader and Uttar Pradesh minister Siddharth Nath Singh congratulated Priyanka, but added that it is also an admission that in the Gandhi family, the dependence on Rahul is over.
He said Rahul Gandhi’s fall is the rise of Priyanka Gandhi in the Congress.
Indian political strategist Prashant Kishore said that for him “the real news is that she finally decided to take the plunge.”
Speaking to News18, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah said, “Thrilled that she is entering electoral politics. Hope she will contribute to politics. We extend our best wishes to her.”
Congress leader and Rajasthan Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot said that he welcomes his party’s decision. “It is her personal choice to join politics. This decision will motivate Congress cadres all over the country,” he told News18.
Welcoming Priyanka into politics, PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti wondered if the Gandhi family scion would become the X factor of the upcoming national elections.
(With PTI inputs)