Congress moves its queen

The appointment of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the Congress General Secretary for UP East should mostly have been a ‘non news’.

After all, what is so great about Congress giving a party post to a Gandhi scion? It is, after all, their own party.

But what gives the development a major twist is: location, location, location.

Yes, she being put in charge of Uttar Pradesh East is the most significant part of the story. For the uninitiated, UP East is the home turf of UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. It is also where Varanasi, the constituency of Prime minister Narendra Modi, falls under.

UP east comprises, among others, Kanpur, Gorakhpur, Lucknow, Ghaziabad, Agra, Varanasi, Faizabad, Meerut and Allahabad.

This is Congress’ boldest gambit yet: It has moved its queen.

For long, both Rahul and Priyanka have been mollycoddled in the Congress and have been mostly servicing only established pocket burroughs. But modern-day politics doesn’t allow for hiding them in comfortable cocoons. In fact, it can be argued that Congress has paid a huge price and suffered a major erosion in its popularity across the country because of its tendency to cotton both Rahul and Priyanka in safety.

But the Congress can no longer can afford that luxury. And the 2019 general election is the only chance for it to make a decent comeback. Failing that, it would indeed be a Congress mukt India.

Probably realising this, the party has pushed Priyanka right into the rival’s fortress, as it were.

“It is a brave move or a foolhardy choice. It depends on how you see it. But no matter what, it is a major development ,” says a political analyst in Lucknow.

“But it doesn’t carry the extra layer of caution that used to line Congress’ move when it comes to the Gandhis. It means they are getting ready for a fight,” he adds.

Congress circles are pretty gung-ho about the development, and the party’s official Twitter handle, while announcing the details, talked of being ‘fired up and ready to go.’

A Delhi hack likened the Congress move to the Indian team getting Sachin Tendulkar to open the innings in one-dayers. “We cannot yet talk of it being as successful as it was in the case of Sachin. But this certainly matches that move in terms of unexpectedness and boldness,” he added.

With Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati sewing up a firm alliance, things are tough for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. In a sense, it now has nothing to lose in UP (It won only two seats from UP in 2014 — Amethi and Raebareli, to be precise.)

Perhaps it is this thought that was at the core of putting Priyanka in-charge of a pivotal area. It is also being suggested that she would be made to contest from one of the seats. That would make things even more interesting.

Priyanka was so far ‘handling’ her mother’s constituency of Raebareli. But now she has been verily pushed to the battle-front.

She has to now shape up or ship out. There is no in-between.