On Wednesday, Congress president Rahul Gandhi sprung a surprise by announcing the induction of his sister Priyanka into politics. He appointed her as the party general secretary in-charge of eastern UP.
The announcement was underplayed by the part by mentioning it in the third para of its press release. Nevertheless, the announcement caused jubilation among party ranks who celebrated this decision in different parts of the country.
I consider Priyanka's entry into politics a mere formality because she had already been working for the party behind the scenes for the last several years. She used to run the 'war room' for Congress during UP assembly polls and she used to micro-manage the AICC meetings, deciding who would sit with brother Rahul on the dais.
It was Priyanka who was instrumental in deciding when Rahul should take over as party chief. Priyanka played an important role recently in deciding the names of three chief ministers in MP, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Congress leaders say, Rahul wanted Sachin Pilot to become Rajasthan chief minister, but it was Priyanka who insisted on giving the mantle to Ashok Gehlot.
Priyanka was, and continues to be, much influential in the party behind the scenes. Senior party leaders knew about this development and it was an open secret.
Priyanka is no doubt politically aggressive - but in a different sense. Few people understand her brand of politics and strategizing. She has good knowledge of local politics, and knows the issues that relate to common people. She knows what to say and how to connect with voters. She also knows how to snap back at the opposition. On most of these points, she is ahead of her brother Rahul.
Many senior Congress leaders I spoke to, admitted that Priyanka is the party's trump card. She has the potential to invigorate the party workers. But I am still surprised, why Rahul Gandhi made the announcement in this manner, and sought to underplay it.
Priyanka's entry into politics should be seen from a larger point of view. I have information that she has written a book 'Against Outrage', in which she has narrated events following her father Rajiv Gandhi's assassination, the changes that came in her and her brother's life, and in her mother's life. The challenges and difficulties that her family had to face.
The book is due to be released by Penguin in March this year, and this could create ripples in political circles. The book is being translated from English into several Indian languages in order to get the maximum impact. I personally feel, Priyanka's entry into politics and her book release during the thick of the election campaign will work to a large extent in energizing the party rank and file.
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