- Priyanka Gandhi met with Congress workers from 8 Lok Sabha constituencies
- The meeting lasted for over 16 hours
- It was her first meeting since Rahul Gandhi announced her political debut
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra emerged after 5.30 am on Wednesday morning from an overnight meeting with Congress workers on the campaign for the national election due by May. "I am getting their views on how to fight these elections to win," the party's new general secretary told reporters after the 16-hour meeting.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra met with district presidents and workers from 12 Lok Sabha constituencies including the Gandhi family seats Amethi and Raebareli. The marathon meeting began on Tuesday afternoon after the 47-year-old arrived in Lucknow from Jaipur, where her husband Robert Vadra and his mother Maureen Vadra were questioned by the Enforcement Directorate on a money-laundering case.
"I'm learning a lot about the organisation, how it is structured and the changes that need to be made," she told reporters. How was the experience -- her first since her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi announced her political debut -- Priyanka Gandhi was inevitably asked. "It feels very good...They waited so long. I am learning a lot," said the mother-of-two, who had over the past 15 years limited herself to campaigning in the Amethi and Raebareli constituencies of her older brother and mother Sonia Gandhi.
The other constituencies that featured in the discussions were Lucknow, Unnao, Mohanlalganj, Sultanpur, Pratapgarh, Barabanki, Phulpur, Allahabad, Kaushambhi and Fatehpur.
Party sources said she held meetings with 10 to 20 people each from the 12 constituencies. Workers spoke about how they gave Priyanka Gandhi feedback about bickering on the ground and how it needs to be corrected. Priyanka reportedly promised to stay one day and one night in each UP constituency.
In an adjoining room at the Congress office in Lucknow, Jyotiraditya Scindia held meetings with leaders from the constituencies in his charge. His meetings ended hours before Priyanka's, at 2.30 am.
Politically vital Uttar Pradesh has the most number of parliamentary seats - 80 - and any party that performs well in this state has a chance at power at the centre.
Rahul Gandhi has placed 41 of those seats, covering eastern Uttar Pradesh, under his sister's charge. Jyotiraditya Scindia will be in charge of 39, a party statement said on Tuesday.
Priyanka Gandhi's share includes Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Varanasi and Gorakhpur of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath - one of the BJP's leading campaigners.
She is spending four nights in Lucknow, which, say Congress's UP leaders, is unusual and "historic" for any Congress leader in recent times.
Priyanka Gandhi and Jyotiraditya Scindia, along with Rahul Gandhi, had held a grand roadshow on Monday to galvanise party workers in the state that gave the Congress its most iconic leaders and prime ministers but has over the past three decades preferred other parties like the BJP, Samajwadi Party and BSP.
The loss of a grassroots base is a big reason for Congress's decline in the state, the reason why Priyanka met with booth-level workers, say leaders. Rival BJP, in comparison, has been far ahead in the game when it comes to lowest level management.
A group of Congress workers from the Phulpur Lok Sabha seat, previously held by India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru - Priyanka's great-grandfather -- decades ago, told reporters that the younger Gandhi asked them to concentrate on getting people to vote for the Congess at the booth level and in villages.