- Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been planning to move out of Delhi
- The Congress general secretary was served notice yesterday
- Congress said the government's step reflected the "deep hatred"
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been planning to move out of Delhi to Lucknow as the base camp for her political plans to resurrect the Congress in Uttar Pradesh. The notice yesterday to vacate her government bungalow has accelerated her plans, say sources.
The Congress general secretary was served notice yesterday to vacate by August 1 the bungalow allotted to her in 1997 for security reasons. The notice said the allotment stands cancelled as she is no longer an SPG (Special Protection Group) protectee. She was also asked to pay dues of Rs 3.26 lakh, which she did immediately online.
The Congress said the government's step reflected the "deep hatred and vendetta of Prime Minister Narendra Modi" towards the Congress leadership.
Priyanka Gandhi's plans to shift base earlier this year were derailed by the coronavirus lockdown, say Congress sources. Her daughter Miraya has board exams this year and she has been waiting for those to get over before relocating.
The Congress leader has finalised a home in Lucknow - it is the house that belonged to Congress leader Shiela Kaul, the aunt of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi's grandmother.
Sources say Priyanka Gandhi has decided to use that house as her base in UP, for meetings with party workers ahead of assembly and Lok Sabha polls.
Already, one Congress leader has suggested in a tweet that the Congress name her chief ministerial candidate for the 2022 UP elections.
The path for a national revival of the @INCIndia is via Uttar Pradesh. The clearest statement of intent will be to declare @priyankagandhi as the Chief Ministerial candidate of the Congress in UP. PGV must be primarily based in Lucknow and lead the charge.— Karti P Chidambaram (@KartiPC) July 2, 2020
"The decision to shift had been taken earlier. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had been functioning in spurts from Lucknow. She led from the front, riding in a motor bike to evade the police while protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act in the state," a Congress leader said.
The shift will take Priyanka Gandhi to the same city as UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, whom she has been targeting emphatically over the past few months on a range of issues including the migrant crisis, the teacher scam and unemployment.
Her last visit to Lucknow was in December 2019, in the aftermath of violent protests over the Citizenship Amendment Act that engulfed UP's capital and the state. At the time, she had a very public face off with the city police after she accused policemen of grabbing her neck and pushing her to the ground while trying to prevent her from visiting the house of a retired IPS officer who has been arrested for opposing the citizenship law.
Ally-turned-critic Mayawati has recently appeared on her dartboard, especially after the former Chief Minister tore into the Congress while declaring that she stood by the BJP on China.
On Monday, Priyanka Gandhi tweeted a jibe at the BSP chief , saying that some opposition leaders had become "undeclared spokespersons" of the BJP.
In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress also has to contend with the Samajwadi Party, which was in power in the state in 2012-17, and got about 18 percent of the vote share in the 2019 general election despite winning only five seats. The Congress and the Samajwadi had fought the 2017 assembly elections in UP in an alliance - the parties were wiped out by the BJP.
While Priyanka Gandhi will spend a significant amount of time in Uttar Pradesh to try and revive the Congress after its abysmal performance in assembly and Lok Sabha elections, she will keep a home in Delhi too, party leaders said.
Her brother Rahul Gandhi and mother Sonia Gandhi - the Congress president -- will also use the home when they make trips to Uttar Pradesh.
Last year, Priyanka Gandhi's campaign in UP for the national election came a cropper as the Congress not only failed to win more than one out of 80 seats in India's most politically vital state but even lost one of its two family strongholds - Amethi, which had voted Rahul Gandhi for three terms.
Sources say the Gandhis believe an address in Lucknow will help repair a massive disconnect between the Congress rank and file in UP and the Delhi leadership.