Box office hit but only supporting role Priyanka to aid, not lead

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  • Published 8.01.14
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra: Scaling up presence?

New Delhi, Jan. 7: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra can stoke bigger media frenzy than any other Congress leader, if the buzz over her presence at a party meeting today is considered a pointer.

The Congress had to step in to stub out speculation that she might likely take on BJP’s Narendra Modi instead of her brother, Rahul Gandhi.

“Priyanka is an important member of the family and she keeps meeting Congress workers and leaders. If she attended a meeting today, what is surprising in it?” asked party general secretary Janardan Dwivedi.

Top sources told The Telegraph Priyanka would definitely be more active but only in a “supporting role” as Rahul was going to be the supreme leader and there was no question of “disinvesting” in him.

The sources dismissed the suggestion that Priyanka had chaired today’s strategy session. They claimed she had dropped in at the meeting in which the tour plans of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul were being worked out.

The meeting generated curiosity as it was taking place at Rahul’s official 12 Tughlaq Lane residence, which is fast replacing 10 Janpath as the power centre in the Congress.

Priyanka often visits Rahul’s residence. Of late, even Sonia has opted to go there instead of calling meetings at her place.

Rahul did not attend today’s meeting as he was not in Delhi. But the presence of Ahmed Patel, Janardan Dwivedi, Jairam Ramesh, Ajay Maken and others indicates that matters ranging from organisation to media —not simply tour planning — were discussed.

The party is already preparing for the AICC session on January 17, where Rahul is likely to be formally declared the Prime Minister candidate. The final team that will manage the 2014 election also has to be set up.

Priyanka has been an integral part of the family’s decision-making processes. She is said to possess good persuasive skills and will act as a bridge between senior leaders and Rahul’s team, a transition that is causing heartburn in important circles.

Although Priyanka is not part of the core committee or the Congress Working Committee, insiders reveal her “inputs” are vital for key decisions. Like Rahul and Sonia, she is said to be unhappy with the state of party affairs and wants drastic changes before the election.

Apart from her role in managing Amethi and Rae Bareli, Priyanka is known to help Sonia with her speeches. She is a key member of the team tasked with building Rahul’s leadership. She also looks after the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation and her role has increased greatly since the Rajiv Gandhi Institute for Contemporary Studies got involved in political planning and training.

Her activities are unlikely to alter dramatically ahead of the 2014 election, sources said. Not only is Rahul’s supremacy in the Congress not open to dispute, it is unlikely that Priyanka will contest the 2014 election.

It is possible, however, that she might campaign in select constituencies beyond Amethi and Rae Bareli. But that has yet to be confirmed. Official sources, however, said she would be seriously engaged in election management.

A senior leader said: “Priyanka’s role will increase definitely but that is natural as she would like Rahul to succeed. It is a great moment for the family. But overseeing co-ordination, giving advice and managing crises do not mean that Rahul will be overshadowed.

“We don’t want the media to speculate on Rahul’s supremacy. That is final.”