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Priyanka's road show in UP; Rahul says time for Cong to win UP, form govt

Press Trust of India  |  Lucknow 

Vadra made her debut in Uttar Pradesh's political arena as with a grand road show on Monday, raising hopes of a turnaround in the party's fortunes, as her asserted that it was the time to uproot the BJP and form the government in the state.

Virtually launching the party's Lok Sabha poll campaign, Priyanka Gandhi, accompanied by and Jyotiraditya Scindia, in-charge of the state's western region, was the cynosure of many eyes with thousands of onlookers, including enthusiastic party workers jostling to get a glimpse and capture the image of the 47-year-old beaming in their phones.

Rose petals were showered and marigold garlands tossed towards the brother-sister duo as their cavalcade embarked on a roughly 25-km-long road show, from the airport to the party headquarters as the duo exchanged brief pleasantries with some members of the crowd.

Significantly, did not address the crowd during the road show or at the office and it was Rahul Gandhi, who attacked the and pitched a roadmap for the party going forward -- seen by many commentators as a subtle political message that he will be calling the shots despite Priyanka Gandhi's popularity in the state.

Asserting that the party will "play on front foot", said,"till a ideology government is installed here (UP), we will not rest and ensure justice for farmers, the youth and the poor."

"Their (Priyanka and Scindia) aim is definitely the Lok Sabha elections, but also to bring a here," he said, adding "the Congress began its journey from and it cannot remain weak in the state...Congress has to improve performance in UP in the LS polls and from government in the next assembly elections."

Giving a sense what her entry means to the party workers in UP where the party has been struggling electorally for years, posters showed Priyanka in 'Durga Mata' (Hindu Goddess) avatar riding a lion.

"Maa Durga ka roop behen Priyankaji (Sister Priyankaji is Maa Durga's incarnation)", said one poster, while some others highlighted her resemblance to Indira Gandhi, her grandmother.

Priyanka Gandhi's entry into active has been at a time when the party is not only witnessing one of the most difficult times electorally but has also been sidelined by prospective allies for the 'mahagatbandhan' with the and totally ignoring it in while forming their alliance.

"An alliance is also in the contest here and I have clearly said that I respect Mayawatiji and Akhilesh Yadavji...but Congress will fight with all its might for its ideology to change Uttar Pradesh," Rahul Gandhi said.

Asking crowd to repeat his "chowkidar chor hai" (is the thief) barb against in connection with the Rafale jet deal, Rahul Gandhi alleged that the has "stolen" money from and other states to benefit industrialist

The government and have denied the allegations levelled against them by Congress and other opposition parties.

At a number of places, the leaders atop the bus had to dodge overhead electric wires in the busy and congested commercial areas. They also had to change to an open jeep near the here.

At the end of the four-and-a-half hour roadshow, Rahul Gandhi addressed enthusiastic party workers at the state Congress office. also interacted with the state unit leaders at the party office.

The Congress party had fared miserably during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections by winning just two of 80 seats in the state.

The eastern UP, Priyanka Gandhi's area of responsibility has Modi's constituency The region is also seen as a stronghold of Chief Minister

Speaking at the venue of TDP and Andhara Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu's fast in New Delhi, senior Congress described Priyanka Gandhi's entry into active as "better late than never", and said it will enthuse the party cadre.

As Priyanka Gandhi's road show was on, her husband sent her his best wishes.

"My Best wishes to you P, on your new journey of working in Uttar Pradesh and serving the people of You have been my best friend, a perfect wife, and the best mother to our children. There is a very vindictive and vicious political atmosphere... But I know, it's her duty to serve the people and now we hand her to the people of Please keep her safe," he said.

Priyanka Gandhi, who married Vadra in 1997, last week came out in strong support of her husband, dropping him off at the Enforcement Directorate office for his first day of questioning in connection with a money laundering probe.

"He is my husband, he is my family...I support my family," she had said.

On the day of her political debut in UP, Priyanka Gandhi also joined and garnered a massive response with tens of thousands following her on the within hours.

A day before her maiden visit to Uttar Pradesh as Congress general secretary, Priyanka Gandhi said that together with the people of the state she hopes to start a "new kind of politics" in which everyone will be a stakeholder.

The two general secretaries will interact with party workers at the state Congress office in on February 12, 13 and 14.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, February 11 2019. 21:30 IST