U.P. Cong. calendar featuring Priyanka Gandhi fuels speculation

The move raises the question whether the Congress is going to project her as the party’s Chief Ministerial face to take on the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government ahead of next year’s U.P. Assembly election.

At a time when the Congress is going through a phase of uncertainty with regard to its central leadership, a 2021 calendar prepared by the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) can become a talking point.

Photographs of party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is the All India Congress Committee (AICC) in charge of Uttar Pradesh, has been put up on every page of the 12-page calendar.

The move raises the question whether the Congress is going to project Ms. Vadra as the party’s Chief Ministerial face to take on the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government in the State ahead of next year’s U.P. Assembly election.

An AICC functionary, who did not wish to be named, played it down by pointing out that a similar calendar with Rahul Gandhi’s photos was prepared for Wayanad, the Congress leader’s Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala.

Though the UPCC has not formally released their calendar, each page showcases Ms. Vadra’s work as the party’s in-charge in the State: from hugging the mother of the Hathras rape and murder victim to reaching out to victims of caste violence in Sonbhadra to attending the birth anniversary celebrations of Saint Ravidas in Varanasi.

In a State where Yogi Adityanath has become the strident face of Hindutva, the Congress too has put up an image of Ms. Vadra praying at the renowned Mahakal temple dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Political base

Though there has been no official announcement, speculation has also intensified about Ms. Vadra shifting her political base to Lucknow.

“You will hear about it soon,” said a functionary on Thursday.

Ms. Vadra, who used to manage her mother Sonia Gandhi’s constituency of Rae Bareli, joined full-time politics in January 2019, months before the Lok Sabha poll.

Often talked about as the ‘trump card’ that the Congress had not used, Ms. Vadra’s entry was expected to give a much needed booster shot to the Congress in the Hindi heartland.

However, the results of the 2019 polls proved otherwise as the Congress that had won two Lok Sabha seats — Rae Bareli and Amethi — in the 2014 elections was left with one seat after Mr. Gandhi lost from Amethi

Despite the humiliating loss, Ms. Vadra has been taking on the Yogi Adityanath government over a range of issues, from not providing transport to migrant workers during the COVID-19 lockdown to law and order and crimes against women.

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