Priyanka Gandhi launches political career ahead of key India polls

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Priyanka Gandhi Image copyright AFP
Image caption Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra connects easily with the voters

Priyanka Gandhi, the charismatic sister of Congress party leader Rahul Gandhi, has formally joined politics months ahead of general elections in India.

Ms Gandhi has been appointed the party general secretary for the eastern part of the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh.

She has campaigned extensively for her brother and mother Sonia Gandhi in earlier elections, but had refused a formal political role for herself.

Analysts say she will infuse fresh energy into the Congress campaign.

The main opposition Congress party was routed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the last general election in 2014 and has found it hard to recover.

The party gained some ground in recent state elections, but faces a tough challenge to beat the BJP and regain power.

Social media had been awash with rumours of Priyanka Gandhi’s impending political launch in recent days and on Wednesday, the Congress officially confirmed the news with this tweet:

Many in the party have clamoured for a larger role for Ms Gandhi for years, but the 47-year-old mother-of-two has been reluctant until now to take centre stage.

In previous elections, she had restricted her campaigning to Amethi and Rae Bareli – the parliamentary constituencies of her brother and mother – and is held in high esteem by the voters there.

The Gandhi family has enjoyed cult status in these underdeveloped areas where her father Rajiv and grandmother Indira Gandhi – both former prime ministers – also won several elections.

Her appointment has been greeted enthusiastically by Congress party leaders, workers and supporters, who have often compared her to her charismatic grandmother.

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