Priyanka and Sonia Gandhi at a Congress rally in Amethi in June 1991. It was at this rally that Sonia fired the first salvo at the P.V. Narasimha Rao government of going slow on the probe into Rajiv Gandhi's assassination | Praveen Jain/ThePrint
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With the Congress announcing her appointment as a party official, Priyanka Gandhi finally emerges from the shadow of her mother Sonia and brother Rahul.

On Wednesday, the Congress party ended years of speculation by announcing Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s formal entry into politics with her appointment as general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East.

The move, which comes weeks before the 2019 general elections, reflects the Congress’s intent to go full throttle in the state.

In her assignment, Gandhi takes over the politically crucial state — a Congress bastion till the mid 1980s — from the first week of February.

Priyanka Gandhi campaigning in Rae Bareli | Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Priyanka Gandhi on her first campaign in Rae Bareli. Priyanka was campaigning for her mother Sonia Gandhi, who was contesting her first election | Praveen Jain/ThePrint

The area Priyanka will take charge of is quite significant as her campaign will centre on east UP, home to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Lok Sabha constituency, Varanasi, and CM Yogi Adityanath’s stronghold and former parliamentary seat, Gorakhpur.

So far, Priyanka has restricted her political role to the constituencies of her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi (Amethi) and mother Sonia Gandhi (Raebareli).

A young Priyanka Gandhi (centre-left) with her mother Sonia (centre-right) to mark her grandmother Indira Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao joins them | Praveen Jain/ThePrint

Priyanka Gandhi, who turned 47 on January 12, will assist her brother and Congress president Rahul Gandhi in the Hindi heartland state, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the largest of any state in the country.

Priyanka Gandhi goes through a barricade to reach her father Rajiv Gandhi’s samadhi | Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Priyanka Gandhi negotiates another barricade at the location | Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Priyanka looks at a photograph of her father Rajiv Gandhi, who was assassinated in May 1991. Her brother and current Congress party president Rahul Gandhi sits next to her | Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Varun Gandhi accompanies his cousin sister Priyanka to the funeral of Rajiv Gandhi on the day he was assassinated. Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan stands behind them, at Teen Murti Bhawan in New Delhi on May 21, 1991 | Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Priyanka Gandhi at her father’s Rajiv Gandhi’s first death anniversary in New Delhi in May 1992 | Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Senior Congress leader Madhav Rao Scindia at Shakti Sthal where Sonia and Priyanka Gandhi offer prayers to Indira Gandhi’s memorial | Praveen Jain/ThePrint

Besides Priyanka Gandhi, Madhav Rao Scindia’s son Jyotiraditya Scindia has been appointed general secretary for Uttar Pradesh West.

Priyanka and Jyotiraditya replace Ghulam Nabi Azad, who has been appointed AICC general secretary for Haryana, where the party is divided into factions.

Priyanka Gandhi (middle row-centre) at the funeral of Mother Teresa in Kolkata in September 1997 | Praveen Jain/ThePrint
Priyanka on the campaign trail in Amethi for her mother Sonia Gandhi | Praveen Jain/ThePrint

During the years of speculation over Priyanka’s foray into politics, mother Sonia maintained she would join the fray if and when she decided to do so. There is talk now that Priyanka may contest the Rae Bareli seat, which is currently represented by Sonia, who is the UPA chairperson.

Priyanka was earlier actively involved in key decision making in the party along with her mother and brother, including the selection of new chief ministers for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh recently.

She was also instrumental in initiating the entry of Manpreet Badal and Navjot Singh Sidhu in the Punjab Congress.

Priyanka Gandhi with her husband Robert Vadra | Praveen Jain/ThePrint

The mother of two is married to Robert Vadra, who is embroiled in a land row in Haryana and Rajasthan and is facing probes by the Enforcement Directorate.

Also read: Protective Sonia & bodybuilder Robert Vadra have finally released Priyanka from purdah


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