Cong loyalist drove ‘Operation Priyanka’

Priyanka Gandhi

In a Chanakya-inspired move that will rank among the most astute in recent times, a veteran Congress loyalist is said to have been the one who successfully managed Priyanka Vadra’s formal entry into politics as the party’s general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East.

As more details emerge on her elevation, it is believed that the well-entrenched loyalist, whose pre eminent status was recently restored, was the one who drove the operation that ended in the party’s announcement on her new political role.

So far she has been handling the back office functions of her brother, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, managing his media interactions in India and preparing the content of key speeches like the one at the capital’s Talkatora Stadium last year where he gave the slogan of ‘Save the Constitution’.

The reactions across the political spectrum appeared to have justified the punt that India’s Grand Old Party had taken in pitching Priyanka to take on the challenging role of winning eastern Uttar Pradesh. The Congress has repeatedly had the upper hand in creating a buzz in politics in the past few months and this is one more such instance.

Sources pointed out that it could not have been easy for the loyalist to have gone through with the move against the backdrop of his making a comeback when efforts were on to wean the party away from the party’s old guard.

However the reclusive leader, who instinctively shuns the spotlight, is close to the Congress’ first family and was once a formidable power centre in the party as part of Sonia Gandhi’s sanctum sanctorum.

It is possible that the connection worked as he put forward Priyanka Vadra’s name for the crucial role. The steps leading up to her appointment as Congress general secretary were said to have been taken in consultation with Sonia Gandhi. On Friday, the Congress president said at a rally in Odisha that her appointment was not a sudden decision.

The loyalist is widely reputed to be the lord of the moving parts in Indian politics and in the past, he has delivered many a masterclass in managing situations that were seemingly beyond control.

In the present case, it is believed that the Congress party has prepared a strategy for the coming days that involves several next steps.

By allotting Uttar Pradesh to Priyanka Vadra — Rahul Gandhi has let it be known that she has been given the charge of winning the state for the party — a message has purportedly been sent out that the Congress president will now be free to manage the rest of the country. When common folk in Amethi complained about the situation in Amethi on Wednesday morning, Rahul Gandhi himself said – that they shouldn’t worry because he was sending “medicine” from Delhi. Low and behold, within an hour the release announcing her entry into the world of politics had spread like wild fire.

What will make that possible is the immense equity that she has with the young and elderly and indeed all sections even outside the Gandhi pocket boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli in Uttar Pradesh.

There is speculation that in the days ahead there could be a splitting of functions between the siblings. It is also being said that if Rahul were to be reluctant to claim the Big Prize in the central government if the Congress party gains pole position in the Lok Sabha elections, sister Priyanka Vadra could be presented as the fallback option and take on the mantle of leadership.

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