New Delhi, February 5: Marking the end of an era with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the newest fifth generation member of the Gandhi-Nehru family to plunge into active politics, will function from a room at the AICC headquarters next to the office of her brother and party chief Rahul Gandhi as she prepares to formally take charge as General Secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh East.
The room, made spic and span, was allotted to her on Tuesday, a day after she returned from the US. It will serve as her base to bring about a change in the fortunes of the party in the coming Lok Sabha polls. With Priyanka Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi now both part of the AICC set-up and its two most prominent office-bearers, it marks a new beginning in the history of 133-year-old party. Priyanka Gandhi to Contest 2019 Lok Sabha Elections From Yogi Adityanath's Fief Gorakhpur? Congress Workers Demand the Same.
It also marks end of an era with UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who helmed the Congress from 1998 as party chief and steered it to form governments with allies in 2004 and 2009, no longer part of the AICC set-up. Sonia Gandhi had taken over from Sitaram Kesri, who was ousted when party was going through a rough patch. Rahul Gandhi had taken over as party chief from his mother in December 2017 and with Priyanka Gandhi now joining the party ranks as an office-bearer, it marks a significant transition towards heralding the next generation leadership in the party.
The room allotted to Priyanka Gandhi is the same which Rahul Gandhi used as his office till his elevation as the party chief. A name plate with her designation has been put outside the room. It has pictures of former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and also of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. There is a picture of Rahul Gandhi on the table and she may decide to add more pictures.
Congress sources said it was not clear when she will formally take charge of her office at 24, Akbar Road but a meeting of General Secretaries had been convened on February 7 by Rahul Gandhi. The party is abuzz with excitement since her appointment as the Congress General Secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh last month. Party workers are expected to throng the Congress headquarters the day she formally assumes office.
The room has in the past been occupied by several Congress leaders including A.K. Antony, Janardan Dwivedi and Suhshil Kumar Shinde. Party sources said she will decide on her team and staff after taking charge of the office but there is speculation that AICC Grievances Cell chief Archana Dalmia and Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev would be part of her team.
It remains to be seen how often Priyanka Gandhi will visit her office. Rahul Gandhi, who was appointed General Secretary in 2007 and later Vice President in 2013, came to the office a few times neraly every month depending on his schedule and engagements. The meeting on Thursday is expected to be Priyanka Gandhi's first meeting with the party office-bearers at AICC and they would chalk out the roadmap and strategies for the Lok Sabha elections.
After her return from the US, Priyanka Gandhi met Rahul Gandhi on Monday. The meeting was also attended by party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who has been given charge of west Uttar Pradesh. Charismatic and ebullient, Priyanka Gandhi faces a challenging task to revive the Congress in Uttar Pradesh as it could win only two Lok Sabha seats there in 2014 and the party is battling it out alone as the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have kept it out of their alliance.
Rahul Gandhi has said that Priyanka Gandhi being a general secretary has a national role and party leaders have indicated that she would not confine herself to Uttar Pradesh and campaign in other parts of the country as well.