Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, Congress's in-charge in eastern Uttar Pradesh, will take a boat ride on a 140-kilometre stretch of the Ganga river between the Prayagraj and Mirzapur districts on Monday, where she will meet the communities living by the river and seek support for the party for the Lok Sabha polls. Congress sources told NDTV the permission for the boat ride came through late on Saturday night; though the party had unofficially released her schedule on Friday.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will land in Lucknow today and will reach Prayagraj by evening. In her second visit after being appointed the party's general secretary, she is likely to spend four days in the state.
The Congress leader will try to turn the boat ride into an electoral opportunity as she would interact with electorally significant communities who live by the river. Many of these communities, the Congress says, come under the other backward castes or scheduled castes groupings and together they make up a good chunk of the electorate.
A host of visits to temples and dargahs are also planned along the route where her steamer would make stops.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is also expected to focus on campaigning against the BJP government's claim of having cleaned up the Ganga river through her steamer ride and interactions.
The Congress general secretary will be ending her trip in Varanasi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Lok Sabha constituency, a day before the festival of Holi. Her itinerary in the holy city includes visits to temples, interactions with weavers, and also a 'Holi Milan' programme, a day before the festival.
There have been questions on the Congress's handling of a politically crucial state like Uttar Pradesh, which sends the most number of lawmakers to parliament. Priyanka Gandhi was appointed the Congress general secretary for eastern UP over a month ago, but this is just her second visit to the state.
The Congress and the Akhilesh Yadav-Mayawati alliance have failed to reach an understanding in the state, handing over the possible advantage of a split minority and SC-OBC votes to the BJP.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the Congress won just two seats-- Amethi and Rae Bareli--and got a little over 7 percent of the votes.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's entry into politics will make "no difference" to the BJP's Lok Sabha poll prospects in the state and dismissed the SP-BSP alliance as "false alarm". "The Congress has made her (Priyanka) its general secretary (in-charge of eastern UP) this time. It is an internal matter of that party. Earlier too she had campaigned for the Congress. This time also it will make no difference (to the BJP)," he told PTI.