New Delhi: After staying away from the Congress’ election campaigns in Haryana and Maharashtra, the party’s general secretary in-charge (UP East) Priyanka Gandhi Vadra sprung a surprise Wednesday by addressing a massive public rally in Jharkhand, which is in the midst of assembly polls.
It was a rare poll appearance for Priyanka who has only addressed a handful of rallies outside Uttar Pradesh — the last one being in Assam on 14 April, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.
She has kept herself confined to Uttar Pradesh, where she has been protesting on various counts against the Yogi Adityanath-led BJP government.
Priyanka was in Pakur along with Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) chief Hemant Soren, whose party has allied with the Congress in the state. Wednesday was also the last day of campaigning before the fifth and last phase of elections in the state on 20 December.
Sources in the Congress said the party had planned the Pakur rally as a grand event and was looking for a senior leader to helm it.
“We had planned the rally in advance,” a Congress functionary told ThePrint. “It is the last day of campaigning so we had to call someone senior.”
Another functionary said it was former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi’s absence that had prompted Priyanka’s last-minute visit. Rahul has addressed four public events in the run-up and during these elections.
“The plan was decided at the last minute,” the second functionary said. “It was Sonia Gandhi who approved her visit. The party sees potential in this election, we feel that we can win in Jharkhand.”
Rahul in Seoul, Priyanka on the streets
Priyanka’s name was not even mentioned in the Congress party’s star campaigner list for Jharkhand, which was released before the elections.
But Priyanka has been active in the absence of her brother Rahul, leading from the front in the party’s dharna against the alleged violence by police on the students of Jamia Millia University Monday.
Rahul is on an official Overseas Congress visit to Seoul along with its chief Sam Pitroda. The former Congress president shared a picture of him meeting the prime minister of South Korea Lee Nak-yon on Twitter Tuesday after questions were raised about his absence from Congress’ Monday dharna.