Priyanka Gandhi buzz after meeting top Congress leaders

Written by PTI | New Delhi | Updated: Jan 8 2014, 01:28am hrs
Priyanka Gandhi today created flutters in political circles when she attended a meeting of top Congress leaders in the residence of her brother Rahul Gandhi, ahead of the AICC conclave on Jan 17 in which he may be made the prime ministerial candidate.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi's political secretary Ahmed Patel, Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, AICC general secretaries Madhusudan Mistri, Janardan Dwivedi, Ajay Maken and party ideologue Mohan Gopal were present in the meeting, the sources had.

There was no no clarity whether Rahul was present in the meeting or not. Party sources were not ready to come on record on this.

Congress also downplayed Priyanka's presence at the meeting saying she has been active in Congress politics and what was the surprise in her meeting senior leaders.

There has been speculation in recent months on whether Priyanka, who has so far confined her politics to campaign for her mother Sonia Gandhi in Raebareli, would take a plunge into politics full time.

Priyanka, who turns 42 next week and has a charisma of her own, has had a role in nurturing Rae Bareli and visits Amethi for campaigning for brother during elections.

A senior leader dismissed as "wild" speculation that Priyanka could be made the party's PM candidate and Rahul as party chief.

However, speculation persisted whether Priyanka was preparing to take a plunge into politics. Her attendance in the meeting today fuelled further speculation.

Party leaders say in private that Priyanka getting active in party affairs will enthuse the rank and file after the recent electoral debacle and perceived rise of Narendra Modi and AAP.

Earlier in the day, a party functionary had said on the condition of anonymity that the meeting was called by Rahul Gandhi that lasted for around 50 minutes and Priyanka Gandhi joined them for only five minutes at the end of the meeting.

As her attendance set off a buzz in political circles, party General Secretary Janardan Dwivedi said Priyanka Gandhi is a member of an important political family.

"May be she is not seen as participating in active politics but she is an active member of Congress for long. She has been looking after election work in Amethi and Raebareli and she is still doing that.

"She has her own opinions on political issues and she has been discussing with party workers from time to time. What is the matter of surprise if she has talked to senior leaders of the party on these issues," she said.

Even a decade ago it was widely believed that Priyanka would take the plunge into active politics. Instead it was Rahul contested the Amethi Lok Sabha earlier held by his father late Rajiv Gandhi

Again speculation gained currency7 after Sonia Gandhi underwent a surgery abroad in 2011 that Priyanka will contest from Rae Bareli. However, this was dismissed by the party.

The party had recently acted tough on some Congress workers, who put out posters inviting Priyanka to contest elections. They were suspended.

The slogans read, "since the mother is not keeping well and brother's burden has increased, Priyanka you become a candidate from Phulpur, campaign for the party, help Congress form the government for the third time). Phulpur was a Nehru-Gandhi family seat in past.