M A I N   N E W S

Cong gears up to defend Priyanka
Anita Katyal
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 10
In addition to building Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s brand image, the party’s spin doctors may also be required to defend her daughter, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

This follows BJP General Secretary Pramod Mahajan’s remarks in Hyderabad which made it clear that besides mounting an attack on Ms. Gandhi, they will also train their guns on Priyanka in case she does decide to campaign in the Lok Sabha elections.

While stating that Ms. Gandhi’s foreign origin and inexperience will be highlighted by the BJP, he also referred to the fact that both former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Ms. Sonia Gandhi had failed to deliver an electoral victory for their party.

“Where both father and mother failed, how can their daughter Priyanka succeed,” Mr. Mahajan said, firing the first salvo against Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.

These remarks come when there is increasing speculation and demand in the party that both Priyanka and Rahul be involved in the coming election campaign. Although denied by Ms Sonia Gandhi, Congress insiders confirm that the Pranab Mukherjee report had suggested that the two campaign for the Lok Sabha poll.

There have been a spate of media reports that Priyanka Gandhi is due to announce her decision on January 12, which also happens to be her birthday. In fact, there is also speculation that in addition to campaigning, she may even contest the Rae Bareli seat.

Mr Mahajan’s remarks indicate the BJP is preparing to confront the Congress in case these reports are correct and even pre-empt Ms. Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s entry into the political fray.

Congress leaders officially dismissed Mr Mahajan’s remarks on the plea that it is still not known whether there is any truth in these reports.

However, there is a section in the party which believes that Ms Priyanka Gandhi Vadra should not enter the fray on election-eve as it would be seen as a “gimmick.”

While admitting that it would make a world of difference in case she does decide to campaign in UP, it was felt that it would be better if she was to join the party organisation, learn the ropes and groom herself for a long-term role both in the Congress and in politics. 

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