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BJP’s dynasty charge reverbs as Priyanka Gandhi makes political debut

New Delhi, January 23: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s formal political debut on Wednesday as Congress general secretary for eastern Uttar Pradesh has given the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) one more opportunity to target the grand old party of India for its dynastic politics.

Following the official declaration, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said that the Congress was not willing to fight on backfoot in any state, and hence Priyanka and Jyotiraditya Scindia were appointed as general secretaries of Uttar Pradesh east and west, respectively.

But the announcement gave more ammunition to the BJP which has always targeted the Congress for being the fiefdomof the Nehru-Gandhi family since Independence. Addressing Maharashtra BJP workers, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that “for some, family is party” but for the ruling party (BJP), “party is family”.

Modi asserted that the “BJP is a party of workers and decisions are not taken on the basis of who belongs to which family”.

The BJP also claimed that Priyanka’s political debut “is a depiction of Rahul Gandhi’s failure”. Party spokesperson Sambit Patra said that the “Congress has basically announced that Rahul Gandhi has failed and needs crutches from within the family”.

Members of the ruling party also questioned the position given to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, with Union minister Ravi Shankar Prasad saying that her persona “merited a wider role”.

However, poll campaign strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor tweeted to congratulate Priyanka Gandhi for taking the “political plunge”.

“One of the most awaited entries in Indian politics is finally here! While people may debate the timing, exact role and position, to me, the real news is that she finally decided to take the plunge! Congratulations and best wishes to Priyanka Gandhi,” he tweeted.

Eastern Uttar Pradesh has some of the most high profile Lok Sabha constituencies including the two Gandhi family bastions, Rae Bareli and Amethi along with Varanasi and Gorakhpur.
While Rae Bareli is represented in the Lok Sabha by Priyanka’s mother and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Amethi is the seat of her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Varanasi’s current MP is Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath won from Gorakhpur for five consecutive terms – 1998, 1999, 2004, 2009 and 2014.

It is yet to be seen as to how and if Priyanka’s political debut ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha election would impact the Congress’ prospects, but with Wednesday’s announcement, the party has posed a renewed challenge to the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. At the same time, the decision is likely to impact the political equation of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party alliance.

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