Priyanka Gandhi's UP Chief Minister Teaser: "Can You See Any Other Face?"

There is no confirmation, as yet, about Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's poll debut, but she does not have to contest (and win) an Assembly seat to become Chief Minister

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is the Congress' face for the 2022 UP Assembly election (File)

Highlights

  • Priyanka Gandhi said this while releasing a manifesto for the youth of UP
  • Her reply came when asked about the buzz over chief ministerial candidate
  • There is no confirmation, as yet, about Priyanka Gandhi's election debut
New Delhi:

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra served up a major surprise on Friday morning - that she could be her party's chief ministerial candidate for next month's Uttar Pradesh Assembly election.

Ms Gandhi Vadra, who was releasing a manifesto outlining job creation plans for the youth of UP, was asked about speculation over the Congress' chief ministerial candidate for this election, given the BJP will line up behind Yogi Adityanath and the Samajwadi Party is led by Akhilesh Yadav.

"You can see my face everywhere, can't you?" Ms Gandhi Vadra replied, sparking speculation that she - who has so far stayed away from electoral politics, is now ready.

When pressed, Ms Gandhi Vadra, who is leading the Congress' campaign in Uttar Pradesh and is the party's face in all communications, just repeated: "You can see my face, can't you?"

There is no confirmation, as yet, about Ms Gandhi Vadra's poll debut; when asked that question she said: "Nothing has been decided yet. we will let you know when we do."

It is important to note Ms Gandhi Vadra does not have to win an Assembly seat to be Chief Minister.

Neither Yogi Adityanath nor Akhilesh Yadav has ever contested a state election although that will change now, with Adityanath standing from his bastion of Gorakhpur and Mr Yadav from the Karhal seat in central UP's Mainpuri, which elected his father, Mulayam Singh Yadav, to the Lok Sabha.

Yet both became chief ministers and were later elected to the state's Legislative Council.

Such an option remains open for Ms Gandhi Vadra, who also batted away tantalising questions about a post-poll alliance to ensure the BJP does not retain power in Uttar Pradesh.

"If such circumstances arise we would be open to considering that. If such a situation arises, we would want out agenda - for women and youth - to be fulfilled in any such dispensation," she said.

In 2017 the Congress and the Samajwadi Party joined forces but the alliance tanked; the Congress won just seven seats and the SP 47 (down from the 224 it won in 2012). The Congress contested 105 seats and the abysmal hit rate irked Mr Yadav, who told NDTV he would not ally with them this time.

For its part, the Congress too has seemed set, so far, against an alliance with the Samajwadi Party.

Back in 2019, ahead of the Lok Sabha election, Ms Gandhi Vadra told reporters she was ready to contest "if (my) party wants (me to)". That was when she had been appointed as the party's in-charge for eastern Uttar Pradesh, leading to buzz she could contest from Rae Bareli.

But her reply to a follow-up was striking; "why not" she said when asked if she wanted to contest.

That was the first time Ms Gandhi Vadra indicated she was open to fighting an election.

UP votes in a seven-phase poll that begins February 10, with results due on March 10.

The Congress and the Samajwadi Party are the ruling BJP's biggest challengers, although the latter is more widely seen as the only one seen as a serious threat to Yogi Adityanath's government.

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