By SM.23 May, 2019
NEW DELHI: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra"s debut as the Congress general secretary was meant to be a lifeline for the party in Uttar Pradesh, a state that contributed to its most glorious days and gave it many prime ministers in the past.
Mostly, Priyanka and her brother Rahul Gandhi were seen to be working for the Congress"s revival in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly election.
As votes were counted on Thursday, however, the party"s hopes were dashed; its chief failed to retain his own constituency Amethi, one of the two seats the Congress had retained in 2014 and a Gandhi family stronghold. The lone seat that the Congress is set to keep in Uttar Pradesh is Sonia Gandhi"s Raebareli.Clearly, said critics, Priyanka, often dubbed the Congress "brahmastra", had come a cropper. Yet many in the party believe Priyanka is still the answer.
The 47-year-old travelled extensively in Uttar Pradesh and aggressively targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi"s policies, accusing him of total neglect of his constituency Varanasi. There was talk about her taking on PM Modi in Varanasi; she was apparently ready to it but finally bowed to the party"s advice.
Wherever she went, she drew the crowds with her natural charisma and mass connect. She was seen stopping her car to greet BJP supporters; in Punjab she spoke their language; in Delhi she called herself a "Dilli girl".
None of that turned into votes for the party. Congress candidates placed third in almost all seats with either the BJP or the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party combine ahead.
The mother of two is seen by many in her party as an image of her grandmother and former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
But after briefly floating on hope, the Congress has crashed once again in India"s most populous state.
The Congress leadership now has the grim task of assessing why it is unable to win over the masses anymore.
Long before her political debut, Priyanka started campaigning for her mother Sonia Gandhi when she contested in 1999 from Amethi in her first election since becoming Congress chief. Priyanka had campaigned and managed the affairs of the party in the family strongholds of Amethi and Rae Bareli ever since.
She also managed the campaign when Rahul Gandhi contested for the first time in Amethi in 2004.
Born on January 12, 1972, Priyanka Gandhi married Robert Vadra, a businessman from Delhi, on February 18, 1997 in a traditional Hindu ceremony. They have two children - son Raihan and daughter Miraya.
There was speculation that Priyanka would take over Amethi if Rahul Gandhi won from there and decided to keep Wayanad from where he has already won.