- Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is likely to contest Lok Sabha polls from Raebareli
- She will debut as the party's general secretary in charge of eastern UP
- Prashant Kishor said decision will boost the morale of Congress workers
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra could have made a major difference in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections if she had decided to take the plunge into politics over three years ago, Janata Dal-United vice-president Prashant Kishor said on Wednesday.
Mr Kishor, then the poll strategist for the Congress, was among those who believed that a larger role for Priyanka Gandhi could help revive the party's political fortunes in Uttar Pradesh. "Until June 2016, her entry into politics was very much on the cards. Going by ground reports, many of us believed that it would make a big impact in Uttar Pradesh. Even Rahul Gandhi was all for the idea, but for whatever reason, they decided against it," he told NDTV in a televised interaction.
The Bihar politician's assertion came on a day when Priyanka Gandhi, the sister of Congress president Rahul Gandhi, decided to take the plunge into politics months ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. She will debut as the party's general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, entering into a direct contest with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Mr Kishor said that while Priyanka Gandhi's decision is "big news" that's sure to boost the morale of Congress workers ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, it is still too early to comment on its likely impact on the electoral contest itself. "It's very difficult to gauge that. She has not even started right now, and to make such predictions would be farfetched," he said.
He refused to draw a comparison between Rahul Gandhi and his sister, saying that it would not be fair to measure up somebody who has been in politics for the last 20 years with another who has just entered. "But the fact is, she has joined politics and now there is no going back," Mr Kishor said, adding that people of her stature do not join politics just for a single election.
According to media reports from 2016, Mr Kishor had pushed for Priyanka Gandhi to be projected as the party's chief ministerial candidate in Uttar Pradesh but failed to convince the party leadership. Today, the former poll strategist welcomed her entry into politics in a most affable fashion. "One of the most awaited entries in Indian politics is finally here! While people may debate the timing, exact role and position, to me, the real news is that she finally decided to take the plunge! Congratulations and best wishes to Priyanka Gandhi," he tweeted.
He recalled how Priyanka Gandhi was always ready to help and coordinate on projects launched by the Congress. "For somebody who was not in politics, she was as involved as she could be. But as for her effectiveness and working style, it is for the people to decide now."
As the BJP's poll strategist, Mr Kishor had played a major role in ensuring the Prime Minister Narendra Modi's victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He later worked for the Congress in the assembly elections that followed, although with lukewarm results, finally joining Nitish Kumar's Janata Dal-United last year.
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