Rahul Gandhi said on Friday that his sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's debut in politics as Congress general secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh is a decision that took years, not days. "I had been talking to her about this for years," the Congress president said during an interaction in Odisha.
Priyanka Gandhi, a mother of two, joined politics this week after years of speculation. Her older brother said she had been reluctant to take the plunge earlier because of her children.
"The decision was taken some years back and not just 10 days ago," Rahul Gandhi said, asked about her "sudden" appointment during the Q and A at Odisha capital Bhubaneshwar.
"I have been talking to her about this for years but earlier she would say that her children were too young and she had to be with them. Now that her children are at a different stage in life, with one in university; Priyanka decided to join politics," he said.
Priyanka Gandhi, 47, will be in charge of the party's campaign for the national election in eastern Uttar Pradesh, which includes the constituencies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia will be in charge of western UP.
Mr Gandhi said he and Priyanka share a strong bond. "Both of us have been through a hell of a lot together," he remarked, remembering dark times for the Nehru-Gandhi family including the assassinations of his grandmother Indira Gandhi and father Rajiv Gandhi.
"These incidents have brought us closer. Everybody thinks all is easy for us but we have seen some very hard situations. That has brought us together," said the Congress chief.
Asked to describe his "equation" with his sister, Mr Gandhi said, "If we are sitting in separate rooms and you ask us the same questions, 80 per cent of the time you will get the same answer."
The Congress president said both he and his sister believe in giving space to each other and there is a constant give and take and spirit of reciprocity between the two when it comes to their personal relations.
"We have a lot of conversation," he added.
The Congress president said his sister's mission was to "revive the Congress' ideology in Uttar Pradesh -- the idea of Congress".
Priyanka Gandhi may have joined the party now but for years she had been part of its key decision-making and has also been in charge of the constituencies of her mother Sonia Gandhi and brother - Raebareli and Amethi.