Priyanka Gandhi Vadra marked her formal entry into politics with a 15 km long roadshow in Lucknow on Monday. Her roadshow seemed to have rejuvenated the spirits of the state Congress workers, who hope that her charisma would bring back the Congress party from the political wilderness it has been in Uttar Pradesh for about three decades. She has been appointed the Congress general secretary in charge of east Uttar Pradesh while Jyotiraditya Scindia has been named the general secretary in charge of west UP.
Her appointment has been timed with an eye on the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. In the 2014 polls, the Congress had won only two seats, Rae Bareli and Amethi.
Accompanied by her brother and Congress President Rahul Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, Priyanka chose to remain silent all through the roadshow. It was Rahul who first took the mic at a makeshift stage, set up near the Noor Manzil Psychiatric Centre and later at the Uttar Pradesh Congress headquarters where the roadshow culminated.
Addressing the Congress workers and leaders at the UPCC office, Rahul said that Priyanka and Jyotiraditya will have to give due importance and weightage to the grassroot level workers and not to those who fly in helicopters. If they succeed, Congress will stand on its feet in the state. He said he had chosen young leaders for Uttar Pradesh as the Congress had started its political journey from the state and it could not afford to be weak in UP.
Rahul told Priyanka and Jyotiraditya, as well as other state leaders, that whenever and wherever required, he will be there for them. He said the current fight is of two ideologies, one of the Congress, which believed in love and in uniting people and other of the RSS, BJP and Narendra Modi, which believed in dividing people.
He attacked the Prime Minister on his “56-inch chest” statement and also on the Rafale deal, interspersing his observations with the “chowkidar chor hai” sneer.
On the BSP-SP alliance, Rahul said he had great respect for “Mayawati ji” and “Akhilesh ji” but the Congress will fight on its own and with full force.
Earlier, addressing the party workers and the people who had thronged the Noor Manzil crossing, Rahul raised the slogan of “chowkidar chor hai” and added that chowkidar had done “chori” in Uttar Pradesh and other states. He said he had appointed Priyanka and Jyotiraditya as general secretaries of Uttar Pradesh and had told them that they would have to pull UP out of the “anyaya” (injustice) it had been facing since long. He added that the intent was to bring a government which had justice as its foundation.
Rahul said their (Priyanka and Jyotiraditya) “lakshya” (aim) was the Lok Sabha polls but their main “lakshya” is the Vidhan Sabha elections in the state with the focus on installing a Congress government in the state. “Till such time as a Congress government was installed, we (Rahul himself, Priyanka, and Jyotiraditya) would not rest.” He added he would now play on the front foot and not on the back foot and will ensure that justice was meted out to the poor, needy, women, and farmers.
Referring to the Rafale deal, the Congress president said the important clauses had been deleted to ensure that Anil Ambani gets to benefit with Rs 30,000 crore.
Earlier in the day, Priyanka arrived at the Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport with her sibling Rahul and Jyotiraditya Scindia. The three, along with UPCC president Raj Babbar, and a few others, climbed a specially designed vehicle for the nearly 15 km long roadshow.
Dressed in a printed off white and blue churidar-kurta, it was evident that the limelight was on Priyanka, as both Rahul and Jyotiraditya chose to take the backseat. While she waived to the crowd and offered Namaste, many from the crowd threw flowers and garlands at her. She reciprocated by accepting those which made them rush towards the vehicle.
Congress workers raised slogans of zindabad with some indulging in jigs. A few wore tee-shirts with the images of the three leaders.
With enthusiastic Congress workers waving party flags, the roadshow made its way slowly from the airport to the RTO office and then onwards to Krishnanagar, Alambagh, and Charbagh, where Priyanka and Rahul were accorded a grand welcome by the party workers. Upon reaching the Allahabad Bank crossing in the posh Hazratganj area of the state capital, Rahul and Priyanka offered floral tributes on the statues of Mahatma Gandhi, Sardar Vallabhai Patel, and Baba Saheb Bhimrao Ambedkar.