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politics | IST

Can Priyanka Gandhi script a turnaround and revive the Congress in UP? Here's what experts have to say

Ending years of speculation, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra formally entered politics on Wednesday with the Congress appointing her general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East in a move reflecting the party's intent to go full throttle in the state ahead of the general elections.
She will take over her new assignment in the politically crucial state -- a Congress bastion till the mid 1980s -- from the first week of February, a statement from the party said.
Priyanka Gandhi will assist her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the Hindi heartland state, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the largest of any state in the country.
After months, if not years of speculation Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has formally entered the political scene. She has been appointed as the Congress general secretary for the politically crucial region of Uttar Pradesh (UP) east or Purvanchal which comprises of 26 Lok Sabha seats including the battleground of Varanasi which is the PM's constituency and Gorakhpur which is Yogi Adityanath's constituency.
Congress said her appointment will energise the party cadre ahead of elections and will reduce the burden on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi. It will also help bring back youth, Dalits and Brahmins to the Congress fold, party sources told CNBC-TV18.
Sharmistha Mukherjee, spokesperson, Congress; Syed Zafar Islam, spokesperson, BJP; Sharat Pradhan, senior journalist and Abdul Hafiz Gandhi, spokesperson, Samajwadi Party, discussed the political scenario of Uttar Pradesh.
Mukherjee said, “It’s her (Priyanka Gandhi) decision and Congress Party’s decision and the decision is a very welcome step and it has energised the Congress workers."
Zafar Islam said, “I think it’s very suicidal and I am sure she will have to regret later. But let me tell you clearly that as far as BJP is concerned, we are not worried.”
“It is the Samajwadi Party, it’s the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) who needs to be worried and they are overly worried because they know that the Congress Party is going to dent only their vote. BJP’s vote bank is absolutely intact, it’s secure and we are not at all worried,” he added.
Pradhan said, “The fact that Priyanka has been coming and making forays into Amethi and Rae Bareilly but then she was not a fulltime politician. Today, she makes a formal entry into politics as a fulltime person and become general secretary of the party and that’s how many of her family members have entered. However, I fail to understand why Zafar Islam is so rattled.”