NEW DELHI, Jan 23 - Gandhi family scion Priyanka Gandhi Vadra formally entered politics on Wednesday with the Congress appointing her general secretary for Uttar Pradesh East, ending years of speculation and signalling the party�s intent to go full throttle in the state ahead of the general elections.
Priyanka Gandhi, 47, will take over her new assignment in the politically crucial state � a Congress bastion till the mid 1980s � from the first week of February, a statement from the party said.
She will assist her brother, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, in the Hindi heartland state, which has 80 Lok Sabha seats, the largest of any state in the country.
The appointment is being seen as a masterstroke, which will infuse energy in party workers of a state where Congress influence has been waning over the years and where the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have announced a tie-up.
As political watchers debated the move and how it will impact political equations in the state, particularly with the SP and the BSP, Rahul Gandhi said he had no animosity against the two parties.
�I feel this decision will help initiate new thought in Uttar Pradesh and will bring a positive change in Uttar Pradesh politics,� he told reporters in Amethi.
The SP and the BSP, he said, formed an alliance in Uttar Pradesh to defeat the BJP and he was ready to cooperate with them in the endeavour.
�Wherever we can work together to defeat the BJP we will... But our work is to create place for the Congress and for which we have taken a big step,� he said.
�I am very happy that my sister Priyanka will assist me in Uttar Pradesh in the Lok Sabha polls. She is very capable,� the Congress chief said.
Party workers speculated that Priyanka Gandhi, who continues the Gandhi family�s legacy of active politics, may contest the polls from her mother Sonia Gandhi�s constituency Rae Bareli.
Addressing the seemingly endless speculation about when Priyanka Gandhi would join politics, Sonia Gandhi had earlier said she would take the plunge when she decided to do so. � PTI