LUCKNOW, India (Reuters) – Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the latest entrant into politics from India’s Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, made her debut on Monday with a roadshow drawing thousands to see her in the most populous state, months before a general election due to be held by May.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi pulled a surprise last month by appointing his younger sister a party general secretary. She will also be its face in Uttar Pradesh, the state that sends the highest number of lawmakers to the lower house of parliament and is currently dominated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
String - BJP - Defeats - State - Elections
But a string of BJP defeats in state elections late last year and rising discontent over a weak farm economy and lackluster jobs growth have weakened Modi’s position, which an increasingly aggressive Congress is looking to capitalize on.
The 47-year-old Priyanka – she is usually referred to by just her first name – bears a striking resemblance to her grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, and is known for her gifts as a speaker able to connect with voters.
Congress - Eyeballs - Votes
Congress hopes that the eyeballs she’s able to generate will turn into votes.
“It’s like Indira Gandhi has come back,” said Fuzail Ahmed Khan, 45, a Congress supporter. “The state’s farmers want Rahul Gandhi to be prime minister, Priyanka to be chief minister.”
Indira - Gandhi - India - Woman - Minister
Indira Gandhi, India’s only woman prime minister and known as the “Iron Lady”, was criticized for suspending civil liberties for nearly two years starting in 1975. The Hindu nationalist BJP calls Priyanka’s appointment an extension of Congress’s “dynastic politics”.
Posters of Priyanka lined the streets of the state capital, Lucknow, and hundreds of Congress supporters, accompanied by drummers, chanted her name as she emerged from the airport with her brother.
Siblings - Supporters - Bus
The siblings continuously waved at supporters from atop a bus and then later from an...
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