- Priyanka Gandhi met with workers from 11 constituencies on Wednesday
- She has been given the responsibility of managing 41 seats in eastern UP
- Priyanka Gandhi wants Congress to contest on all 80 seats: Lawmaker
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia ended meetings with Congress workers in Uttar Pradesh at 2.30 am on Thursday morning, clocking in two 15-hour workdays as they attempt to revive the party in India's most politically vital state ahead of the national election, due by May.
Priyanka Gandhi, the general secretary in charge of 41 constituencies in eastern Uttar Pradesh, did not say anything as she emerged from the marathon meeting at the Lucknow office of the Congress, hours before her first press conference ever.
"It is a five-day match bhai, not a T20," said Jyotiraditya Scindia, the general secretary in charge of the other half of UP, with 39 constituencies, to reporters on an all-night stakeout.
According to Congress lawmakers at the meetings, Priyanka Gandhi met with workers from 11 constituencies.
"Priyanka ji expressed it clearly that we''ll contest on all 80 seats," said lawmaker Aradhna Mishra.
Three seats examined in last night's meetings were Goakhpur, Deoria and Bansgaon. Gorakhpur, the base of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and a BJP stronghold for decades, was discussed for over an hour. Some workers from that region came out gushing that they were allowed to express both "their mann and dil ki baat".
Others wondered if future election meetings chaired by Priyanka-ji would be all-nighters too.
A set of Congressmen from Lucknow brought a casserole full of puris and potato curry, saying they had learnt their lessons on Day 1 and did not want to go hungry for the second consecutive night, so had packed food from home.
A Muslim party worker from Deoria, who also held a post in the organisation a few years ago at the district level, was however not too impressed by the late night meetings. "Sir, this is just 10 per cent substance the rest is just show off. Let her come to the ground and see for herself what shape the party is in at the grassroot level. That's something these senior leaders won't tell her unless she hits the ground," he said.
On Tuesday, Priyanka Gandhi began her meetings at 1.30 pm and called it a day around 5.30 am.
The 47-year-old told reporters that she was learning a lot from party workers and "taking their views on how to fight elections, to win."
On Wednesday, the two leaders announced an alliance with a regional outfit, Mahan Dal. The two parties had tied up for the 2014 elections too, but the Mahan Dal had lost all three seats it contested.
Congress leaders say the regional outfit has some clout in western UP, and the alliance reflects the party's intention to forge similar alliances with other smaller parties because its own organisational structure is in a mess.
In an attempt to reach out to the lowest rung of party workers - a strategy that is one of the biggest strengths of rival BJP - the Congress has asked everyone meeting Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia to fill in a feedback form that includes questions on their caste, sub-caste and social media presence.
News agency IANS quoted workers who met Priyanka Gandhi as saying that they were told: "My focus is on strengthening the party organisation in the state and to ensure that we win, the 'muqabla' (fight) is between Rahul and (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi and not me."