A hoarding put up in Allahabad describing Congress chief Sonia Gandhi as “ill” and asking Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to contest the Lok Sabha election from Phulpur (Allahabad) has created a major controversy within the party. The UP Congress has said the move was part of a conspiracy hatched by political opponents.
The proposal for fielding Priyanka from Phulpur, the seat which her great grandfather Pt Jawaharlal Nehru once represented, has come from the Allahabad city Congress committee. But the move has created ripples in the party high command in New Delhi.
Sources say Sonia Gandhi flew into a rage on being informed about the hoarding and ordered those responsible for the blunderous indiscretion to be thrown out of the party immediately.
Allahabad city Congress secretary Haseeb Ahmad and Youth Congress worker Sirish Chandra Dube, who had put up the lone hoarding in the prominent Civil Lines area, were promptly expelled. The hoarding has been removed and the party is planning to file an FIR against the ‘miscreants’.
The legend on the hoarding which has apparently offended the Congress president was: Maiyya ab rahati beemaar / Rahul bhaiya par badh gaya bhaar / Priyanka Phulpur se bano ummeedwaar / Party ka karo prachaar / Congress ki sarkar banao teesri baar. (The mother remains unwell now increasing the burden on Rahul. Priyanka should be the candidate from Phulpur, campaign for the party and ensure a Congress-led government)
“Some of our partymen have clearly played into the hands of our political rivals,” says UP Congress spokesman Dwijendra Tripathi. “Otherwise, why has Soniaji been described as unwell when she is handling all the party work as Congress president. She is physically fit and in perfectly good health,” he added. He described the move as a “dirty trick”.
The controversy has come close on the heels of another recent one where the media had reported that Priyanka would campaign against Narendra Modi throughout the country. Congress spokesman Ajay Maken had strongly denied the story and blamed the media for playing it up. He had said this was BJP’s ploy to divert attention from the Datia temple stampede in BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh in which over a hundred people were killed.
Though the party has asserted that Priyanka’s role would be confined to campaigning in Rae Bareli and Amethi, speculations have been rife from time to time that she might contest from Rae Bareli owing to Sonia’s frailty.