Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the newest fifth-generation member of the Gandhi-Nehru family to plunge into active politics, will function from a room at the AICC headquarters here next to the office of her brother and party chief Rahul Gandhi as she prepares to take charge as General Secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh East. The room, made spic and span, was allotted to her on Tuesday, a day after she returned from the US. It will serve as her base to bring about a change in the fortunes of the party in the coming Lok Sabha polls.
It has pictures of former Prime Ministers Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi and also of UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi. There is a picture of Rahul Gandhi on the table and she may decide to add more pictures. It is the same room which Rahul Gandhi used as his office till his elevation as the party chief in December 2017. A nameplate with her designation has been put outside the room.
Congress sources said it was not clear when she will formally take charge of her office at 24, Akbar Road but a meeting of General Secretaries had been convened on February 7 by Rahul Gandhi. There has been a buzz in the Congress since her formal entry into politics and her appointment as the Congress General Secretary in-charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh last month. Party workers are expected to throng the Congress headquarters the day she formally assumes office.
The room has in the past been occupied by several Congress leaders including A.K. Antony, Janardan Dwivedi and Suhshil Kumar Shinde. Party sources said she will decide on her team and staff after taking charge of the office but there is speculation that AICC Grievances Cell chief Archana Dalmia and Mahila Congress chief Sushmita Dev would be part of her team.
It remains to be seen how often Priyanka Gandhi will visit her office. Rahul Gandhi, who was appointed General Secretary in 2007 and later Vice President in 2013, came to the office a few times every month depending on his schedule and engagements.
The meeting on Thursday is expected to be Priyanka Gandhi's first meeting with the party office-bearers at AICC and they would chalk out the roadmap and strategies for the Lok Sabha elections. After her return from the US, Priyanka Gandhi met Rahul Gandhi on Monday. The meeting was also attended by party leader Jyotiraditya Scindia, who has been given charge of west Uttar Pradesh.
Charismatic and ebullient, Priyanka Gandhi faces a challenging task to revive the Congress in Uttar Pradesh as it could win only two Lok Sabha seats there in 2014 and the party is battling it out alone as the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have kept it out of their alliance. Party leaders have indicated that Priyanka Gandhi would not confine herself to Uttar Pradesh and campaign in other parts of the country as well.
(With inputs from agencies.)