Poor showing in U.P. has increased burden on Ms. Vadra

Priyanka Vadra is set to play a “broader” backroom role in the Congress ahead of the general election slated for later this year.

The first indication came on Tuesday when she participated in a strategy meeting of leaders amid reports that the Congress is planning organisational changes, which includes bringing Central Ministers into party slots.

The gathering was held at the Tughlak Lane residence of Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, but he was not present, sources confirmed to The Hindu. The discussions focused on the campaign schedule of party president Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Gandhi, who will front the battle for re-election, with political rallies commencing after the AICC meeting scheduled for January 17 in Delhi.

Ms. Vadra, who has no formal role in the party hierarchy, joined the meeting in the latter part, the sources claimed, though she was seen entering Mr. Gandhi’s residence around the time the other leaders did.

“Priyanka Gandhi is a member of an important political family. She may not be seen taking part in active politics, but she is an active member of the Indian National Congress and she has been working in Amethi and Rae Bareli,” said Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi, responding to speculation about her presence at the meeting. “She has her own views on politics and holds deliberations with party workers. If she has held a meeting with party leaders on any issue, it is neither surprising nor new.”

Apart from Mr. Dwivedi, others present included Ms. Sonia Gandhi’s Political Secretary Ahmed Patel, Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, general secretaries Madhusudan Mistry and Ajay Maken, and director of the Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Contemporary Studies G. Mohan Gopal.

After the Congress’ poor showing in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in 2012 the burden on Ms. Priyanka Vadra has grown. Indeed, party sources attributed the frequency of her trips to Rae Bareli to the fact that the constituency needed careful nursing. In 2012, the Congress lost all five Assembly segments in Rae Bareli, while retaining only three of the five in Amethi.

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