Priyanka Gandhi takes part in Congress strategy meet on UP

New Delhi, Oct 24 (IANS) In an indication of her taking on a more active role in electoral politics, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Monday took part in a strategy meet of the Congress for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh assembly elections.

Party sources said it was the first time that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the daughter of party chief Sonia Gandhi, had taken part in a such a meeting and sought feedback about the party’s electoral preparations in the crucial state which is expected to go the polls early next year.

“She had interactions with all those present, listened to them carefully and also asked questions,” said the party source.

Among those present in the meeting were party General Secretary Ghulam Nabi Azad, state party chief Raj Babbar and party’s chief ministerial candidate Sheila Dikshit. Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was not present.

The meeting comes amid the turmoil in Uttar Pradesh’s ruling Samajwadi Party, which is set to have electoral ramifications for various political parties in the state, including the Congress.

The sources said that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s participation in the meeting was a signal of her taking on a more active role in Uttar Pradesh where the Congress faces a tough political battle.

Priyanka Gandhi has so far confined her electoral campaigning to constituencies of her mother and Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her brother Rahul Gandhi.

The sources said her participation in the meeting was also a signal of her taking a formal role in the party’s campaign in Uttar Pradesh.

“This is the first time that she attended a meeting where all senior Congress leaders were present. Everybody wants her to actively participate in the campaign,” said a party leader, who did not want to be named.

Officially, Congress said the meeting was aimed at taking stock of all the yatras undertaken by the party in the state.

“The meeting was aimed at taking feedback as to where we need to improve and the strategy to be taken up after Diwali,” Congress spokesperson R.P.N. Singh told reporters.

“Priyankaji has always campaigned in Rae Bareli and Amethi. Many in the state have urged her to take on a larger role in these elections. Whether she’ll participate in the campaign outside these two constituencies, this decision will be taken by her,” he added.

Party sources said there were suggestions to ally with smaller parties and hold more meetings at the block level.

Congress has been out of power in Uttar Pradesh for over three decades. The party has also not won any major state assembly poll since its debacle in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.