Priyanka Gandhi made general secretary of Congress UP East

New Delhi: Ending years of speculation, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra formally entered politics today with the Congress appointing her general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East in a move reflecting the party’s intent to go full throttle in the State ahead of the general elections.

She will take over her new assignment in the politically crucial state — a Congress bastion till the mid-1980s — from the first week of February, a statement from the party said. The appointment is being seen as a masterstroke which will boost the morale of party workers in a State where Congress influence has been waning over the years and where the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have announced a tie-up.

Priyanka Gandhi, who turned 47, 12 January, will assist her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the Hindi heartland State, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the largest in any State in the country.

There had been speculations over her entry into active politics and the party and her mother Sonia Gandhi had said she would take the plunge when she decides to.

“Congress president has also appointed Smt Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as AICC general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East. She will be taking charge with effect from first week of February 2019,” a statement from Ashok Gehlot said.

Rahul Gandhi also appointed senior party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia as AICC general secretary for Uttar Pradesh West. Priyanka Gandhi and Scindia replace Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has been appointed AICC general secretary for Haryana, where the party is divided into factions.

The Congress chief appointed K C Venugopal as general secretary, Organisation. He replaces Ashok Gehlot, who has since become chief minister of Rajasthan. Venugopal will continue to be AICC general secretary for Karnataka, where the party is in power with the Janata Dal Secular.

“The party appreciates the contribution of Ashok Gehlot as AICC general secretary (Organisation),” a note from the party chief said. Priyanka Gandhi was earlier actively involved in key decision making in the party along with her mother and brother, including the selection of new chief ministers for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh recently.

She was also instrumental in initiating the entry of Manpreet Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu in the Punjab Congress. The mother of two is married to Robert Vadra, who is embroiled in a land row in Haryana and Rajasthan and is facing probes by the Enforcement Directorate.

“Congratulations P… always by your side in every phase of your life. Give it your best,” Vadra said in a Facebook post.

Her joining active politics by assuming an important role in the party heralds the entry of another Gandhi scion. Party workers speculated that she may contest from Rae Bareli seat, which is currently represented by her mother Sonia Gandhi.