Congress chief Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday indicated that he was thinking long-term while appointing sister Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the party's general secretary in eastern Uttar Pradesh. The area being the stronghold of the BJP's biggest mascots - Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose constituency is Varanasi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, whose political and spiritual headquarters is Gorakhpur -- she is seen to spearhead the party's campaign from the area.
Rahul Gandhi, however, indicated that his sister's assignment would stretch beyond 2019.
"I have not sent Priyanka and Jyotiraditya (Scindia) for just two months... Now she will work to establish a Congress chief minister in the state," said Mr Gandhi, hinting that the Congress is also prepping to unseating the government of Yogi Adityanath in the election due in four years. Mr Scindia has been put in charge of western Uttar Pradesh.
Mr Gandhi's surprise announcement on Wednesday is seen as a reaction to Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav's decision to leave Congress out of the alliance in the state.
Mayawati -- simmering since the alliance talks with the Congress fell through in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh - said the Congress was left out as it had nothing to contribute. The Congress can't transfer votes, she said at the press conference announcing the alliance.
Rahul Gandhi, who insisted that the Congress had much to offer the people of Uttar Pradesh, on Wednesday said Jyotiraditya Scindia - in charge of western Uttar Pradesh -- and Priyanka Gandhi have been tasked with spreading the Congress ideology.
"I have sent them to take Congress' ideology forward in Uttar Pradesh. Our ideology of standing and fighting for the poor, for the youth, for the farmers... There will be new thinking, new ideology in Uttar Pradesh," he said.
The Congress chief, however, said he had no enmity with the two opposition leaders. "I respect Mayawati and Akhilesh and we are willing to cooperate. Our aim is to defeat the BJP. No problem if they want to talk with us," Mr Gandhi said.