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Limited campaign role for Priyanka in UP

January 24, 2017 06:19 IST

The SP-Congress campaign will see Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi criss-cross the seats held by either party.
Amit Agnihotri reports.

Priyanka Vadra campaigning for Amita Singh in Amethi in the 2012 assembly election.

Priyanka Vadra, who played a key role in stitching the Congress-Samajwadi Party pre-poll alliance in Uttar Pradesh, is unlikely to step out of the Nehru-Gandhi family bastions Rae Bareli and Amethi to seek votes for the party's nominees in the legislative assembly elections.

It has been widely speculated in UP Congress circles and at the central level that Priyanka might campaign beyond family bastions in order to boost the Grand Old Party's prospects in the state.

"There are no campaign plans for her as of now," sources said.

They also discounted earlier reports quoting UP campaign in-charge Sanjay Singh and state unit chief Raj Babbar that Priyanka had agreed to campaign in selected 150 seats across the state.

Instead, Rahul Gandhi will play a lead role in the joint campaign plan being worked out by strategist Prashant Kishor for the seven-phase UP polls from February 11 to March 8.

The UP campaign will be designed on the lines of the Bihar assembly polls in 2015 where the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal and the Congress combine defeated the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance.

Like in Bihar, where RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD-U leader Nitish Kumar addressed rallies in areas where the other had a strong influence, the SP-Congress campaign will also see Rahul and SP chief Akhilesh Yadav criss-cross the seats held by either party.

The idea, said the sources, is to be seen by the voters that the Congress and SP have not come together due to political expediency, but are fighting the polls, jointly, based on shared goals.

Further, the campaign managers are trying to pen a theme slogan which will articulate the pro-development agenda of both Rahul and Akhilesh.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi may have a subdued role given her ill-health, said sources.

In the 2012 assembly polls, Rahul had led the party campaign. Starting from Phulpur, the parliamentary constituency represented by Jawaharlal Nehru, Rahul had addressed around 200 rallies across UP.

However, he was only a Congress general secretary then. This time, he is the party vice-president and has been acting as de facto president over the past few months leading Opposition protests in Parliament and chairing key party sessions.

The Congress will contest 105 of the 403 assembly seats spread across various regions while the SP will contest 298 seats.

Sources said Rahul's campaign plans for the phase I and II polling on February 11 and 15 respectively will be chalked out keeping in mind the requests from party nominees and the situation on the ground.

The Congress has named 43 candidates for the 140 seats that will go to the polls in the first two phases falling mainly in western UP.

IMAGE: Priyanka Vadra campaigning for Amita Singh in Amethi in the 2012 assembly election.

Amit Agnihotri
Source: source image