The Shiv Sena has offered its first response to Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra's formal induction into the Congress party as party General Secretary for Uttar Pradesh East.
Speaking to reporters, Sena Lok Sabha Member of Parliament Arvind Sawant remarked that the Congress workers had wanted Priyanka Gandhi to join the party for a long time but earlier she hadn't wanted to come. He added that now that she has decided to take the plunge, it's a good thing. Sawant went on to say that he welcomes her entry into politics, though he left the question of the reason and timing of her entry largely unanswered.
"It's a decision of their party, is it not. People of their party also wanted her to come but she was not coming. Now eventually she has come. Everyone has a right to enter into politics and active politics. She has come, we welcome her, wish her the best. We don't know why they have brought her and what's going to happen."
Sena ally BJP's spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP GVL Narasimha Rao, however, took a different line:
Minutes earlier, the Congress party had also tweeted its happiness at Priyanka Gandhi's formal appointment. The party's official Twitter handle had posted the appointment letter, wherein Rahul Gandhi had also signed off on the appointments of KC Venugopal and Jyotiraditya Scindia as General Secretaries. The Congress extolled that it was "Fired up and ready to go!"
The entry of Priyanka Gandhi into the Congress has been much heralded, especially whenever elections concerning Uttar Pradesh are around the corner. Ahead of the 2017 U.P Assembly elections, Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra had addressed public meetings, though nowhere near in the same quantities as Rahul Gandhi. Speaking to Republic TV's Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami on an edition of Nation Wants To Know, poll strategist Prashant Kishor, who had strategised the Congress (later Congress-SP) campaign in Uttar Pradesh, had revealed that he had pushed for Priyanka Gandhi being heavily involved in the election campaign, though his suggestions were not approved at the highest echelons of the party's leadership.
In terms of the upcoming 2019 elections, Priyanka Gandhi's formal political bow comes weeks after the Samajwadi Party and the BSP formalised their alliance for the Lok Sabha polls, excluding the Congress party, following which the Congress announced that it would contest all 80 Lok Sabha seats in India's most populous state. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had stormed to victory in a monumental 71 seats, which went a long way towards the party getting a majority in the lower house. The Congress only managed to win in Amethi and Rae Bareli, the bastions of Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi respectively. The SP only won five seats, while the BSP didn't manage to win any.