| Priyanka, seen here with her brother Rahul at a tea stall in Amethi, took time off to do some quick shopping in her mother’s Lok Sabha constituency. She bought a pair of hairpins for herself and a whistle for her son. The brother and sister had sweets in a ramshackle shop. Priyanka also enquired about the development work being carried out. (Reuters picture/PTI report)
Jan. 21: As Priyanka and Rahul Gandhi swept through Amethi, feeding speculation of their entry into politics, the Congress said the siblings have been in the party “since their birth”.
Asked if the brother and sister had formally joined the Congress, party spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said in New Delhi: “The question of whether they have joined the Congress or not does not arise for persons born in the party. Persons who have lived in the party, whose parents and grandparents have been in the party, are considered to be in the party since their birth.”
It is up to them to decide when they want to join politics, he added. “It is entirely their decision. We will know when they decide to join.”
Priyanka kept the pot boiling, saying in Amethi: “We are considering it (joining active politics). But the decision may take some time. Maybe three months, three years or 10 years.”
“Whenever I feel it’s the right time, whether one week, two years or 10 years from now, when it comes from inside, I will do it. The inner urge has not come in full,” she added.
The Congress spokesperson said the siblings had gone to Amethi, their mother Sonia Gandhi’s constituency, to oversee development work and not to campaign. But Priyanka and Rahul sounded the election bugle, calling upon party workers to oust the NDA.
“There is no room for complacency and the need of the hour is to put to use all our might to trounce the NDA in the elections,” Priyanka told a gathering of party workers near Munshiganj, about 30 km from Amethi.
Slamming the BJP for making development its election plank, Priyanka said there was no development worth a mention in Amethi. “You can see for yourself,” she told reporters. Rahul, visiting the constituency after a long time, added that unemployment was the “biggest problem here. Nothing has been done to solve it”.
The siblings, who addressed meetings of the party’s front organisations, asked workers to fan out in villages and strengthen the Congress at the grassroots, “kyunki Amethi se uthne wale toofan se BJP ka poori tarah safaya ho jayega (because the storm rising from Amethi will wipe out the BJP)”.
Rahul spoke of his mother becoming the next Prime Minister, and Priyanka hinted her brother would henceforth be in charge of Amethi.
Despite a steady drizzle since early morning, a large number of party workers assembled to catch a glimpse of the siblings. Priyanka and Rahul visited about 50 Harijan houses in Salon, a segment of the constituency, and reviewed development programmes in Amethi. Last night, they had called on former Union minister and Amethi scion Sanjay Singh and former MPs and MLAs to discuss the political situation.
The two-day visit to the region has triggered speculation that the Congress might use both Rahul and Priyanka in the Lok Sabha campaign, particularly in Uttar Pradesh and in the southern states. The party spokesperson, however, denied that there were any plans of the two contesting the Lok Sabha polls. “They have given no indication so far,” Singhvi said.
Priyanka has in the past campaigned in Amethi and Bellary in Karnataka, from where Sonia contested.