In what could be seen as an announcement of Priyanka Gandhi's arrival, several senior Congress leaders on Sunday acknowledged the role of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in striking an alliance with the Samajwadi Party (SP) in Uttar Pradesh.
A senior Congress leader told IANS that Priyanka Gandhi played a key role in sealing the deal with the SP.
Senior Congress functionaries Ahmed Patel and Ghulam Nabi Azad, who is also the in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, separately acknowledged Priyanka's role in giving the final shape to the alliance with the SP, which at one point had hit a roadblock.
Another low came in the talks when the Congress reportedly sent "political lightweights" like Prashant Kishor to negotiate with the SP leadership.
However, the Congress on Sunday said there were no "political lightweights" and Priyanka Gandhi herself was involved in the talks.
"(It's) wrong to suggest that lightweights were dealing on behalf of the Congress party. Discussion was at highest level between the UP Chief Minister, Congress' General Secretary in-charge of UP and Priyanka Gandhi," Patel, who is political advisor to Congress President Sonia Gandhi, tweeted.
"I have not spoken to any leader from the Samajwadi Party. News reports mentioning this are incorrect," he said.
Separately, Azad said that Priyanka Gandhi played a crucial role in forging the alliance with the SP, according to which the Congress would contest 105 seats while the SP will fight on 298 seats.
The SP was initially offering Congress around 90 seats, while the latter was not ready to accept anything less than 120.
The talks hit a roadblock, but the two parties finally pulled off a deal and formally announced an alliance at a joint presser in Lucknow.
Priyanka, Congress sources said, will campaign extensively in the polls, with Rahul Gandhi as well as separately. She may also campaign along with Dimple Yadav, the wife of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
The acknowledgement of her proactive role by the Congress party — for the first time perhaps — is significant as it portends the change of guard and a generational shift at the Congress.