NEW DELHI: The Congress in Uttar Pradesh has been struggling to bring in a leadership that could salvage the party from its persistent decline. Leaders in the state claim that it has been hijacked by a group of people who are close to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, giving rise to murmurs in the state cadre that the sister Gandhi could be working on parallel lines against her brother Rahul Gandhi.
There have been talks in UP cadre that there is a gap developing between Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Rahul Gandhi, even as the buzz is that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is trying to develop her own clout within the party, something which was perhaps on display from the red carpet laid for Priyanka Gandhi Vadra by Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Bhagel on her visit to the state for the plenary meet.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s personal assistant Sandeep Singh, who is considered to practice helmsmanship in the state on behalf of the sister Gandhi, has been accused of several malpractices in the state. Senior leaders in the party say that Singh’s intervention everywhere in the state has thrown it into decline and also created a harmful perception towards Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
However, multiple sources closely connected with the leadership rubbished the claim of the sibling Gandhis having developed a rift with each other.
A party insider said, “These whispers come when there is nothing for the cadre to do, then they weave such stories. It is true that the Congress in UP is not that active, so those who want to work there find it hard to work under its leadership, thus they brew stories. There is no truth in anything like that.”
He further added, “There are still people in the party at high positions who are close to both Rahul Gandhi as well as Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and have been only given opportunity at the top only because they are close to both. So there is no validity in rumours that Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are against each other.”
A top source said, “Sandeep Singh may not be working for Congress or he may be working for himself, but it doesn’t mean he is doing it at the command of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra. Although he enjoys her confidence, there is nothing like he represents her.” He added, “She is not replacing him and chances are high that she may not replace him anytime soon either. I don’t know what the reasons are, but it may continue to be like that.”
Party leaders dissatisfied with Singh say that he (Singh) wants Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to get a bigger role in the party so that he can churn more benefits and get hold of more power. Moreover they say that he is further trying to lobby for her ascension. “Wo toh abi Bacha hai in sab k liye (he is a kid for all that), and he can’t do anything beyond Uttar Pradesh,” a senior Congress leader said.
Recently, Singh, on a complaint from party member and actor Archana Gautam’s father who alleged that his daughter was threatened with death, was booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 504 (intentional insult), 506 (criminal intimidation) and 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult modesty of a woman).