Priyanka Gandhi to start campaign in UP by November


Patna: With Rahul Gandhi's kisan yatra that cut across UP in its 3,500 km-long journey ending early this week, the Congress is ready to put in place its Plan 2 and bring Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to start her campaigning for the party "early November or latest by December". Senior sources in the Congress told on Saturday that Priyanka getting into the campaign mode for the poll-bound state by November will not only help maintain the tempo generated by her brother and party vice-president Rahul but build on it. She is scheduled to address 150 rallies across UP.

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"Rahul Gandhi's kisan yatra has revived a floundering Congress," a senior leader said. "For the first time in years, people on the ground are talking about the party in a positive light. 

We are a serious contender this time. However, other parties are yet to start their mass contact programs. Besides, (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi has not yet hit the campaign trail. 

There are fears in the party that we may have peaked too early. That is why we are keeping our Brahmastra – Priyanka – for the last stretch of the campaign."The source added, "Now, it is almost certain that she will hit the campaign trail. The only discussion is on when. It is also almost certain that she will address about 150 rallies in the state. Some senior leaders feel that she should start addressing rallies in November while others feel it should be even closer to the polls, which are likely to be held in February 2017. Priyanka will hit the trail latest by December."

In August, the party had reportedly managed to convince Priyanka to step out of the family boroughs of Amethi and Rae Bareli, where she has addressed rallies earlier. Sources said poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who was hired to revive the grand old party's fortunes in the political bellwether state of Uttar Pradesh, played a leading role in "bringing her out". Kishor, in fact, wanted her to be the party's CM candidate in UP. Only when she declined did the post go to former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, another source in the party said.

"Not just Kishor, everyone wanted her to be the CM face. Nonetheless, she will lead the charge from the front. Party workers are energized after Rahul's yatra. This will further strengthen the party's position. It is about time that the people saw what she is actually capable of pulling off," the source said.

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