India elections: Member of Gandhi dynasty enters politics to challenge PM | World News

A member of India’s most famous political dynasty has formally entered politics to join her brother’s fight to be the country’s next leader.

Priyanka Gandhi, whose brother Rahul is India’s opposition leader, has accepted a role with his Congress Party ahead of the country’s forthcoming general elections.

She is the daughter of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi and politician Sonia Gandhi, and the fourth generation of her family to enter active politics.

Her grandmother Indira was India’s prime minister for 15 years until her assassination in 1984, while her great-grandfather was the country’s first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Indian Congress Party vice president Rahul Gandhi and his sister Priyanka Gandhi
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Ms Gandhi with her brother, opposition leader Rahul Gandhi

Ms Gandhi has taken the role of general secretary of the All India Congress Committee, looking after eastern parts of Uttar Pradesh state.

Her remit is to revive the party in the region, which pits her directly against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and popular right-wing Hindu leader Yogi Adityanath, who both represent constituencies there.

Rahul Gandhi hailed his sister as a “capable and hardworking leader” following her appointment.

The Congress Party president said: “I am very happy that my sister will work beside me.”

“Her appointment is for long term and just not for the few months.”

 Priyanka Gandhi speaks to supporters during a rally
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Ms Gandhi’s appointment is to galvanise India’s opposition Congress Party

Ms Gandhi is expected to campaign for the party elsewhere in the country, in view of a formidable challenge from Mr Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, which is considered a front runner in the forthcoming national elections.

The Congress Party’s move to formally launch her into active politics is to galvanise the rank and file of the Congress Party.

It suffered a humiliating defeat in the 2014 general elections, retaining only two of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, India’s most populous state: Sonia Gandhi’s in the city of Rae Bareli, and Rahul Gandhi’s in Amethi.

A spokesperson for the ruling Bharitya Janta Party dismissed any threat from Ms Gandhi, saying: “Rahul Gandhi has failed and now they need Priyanka as a crutch. Can’t they find anyone beyond the family?”

India’s general elections are due to be held between April and May, when an estimated 900 million people will be eligible to vote in the world’s biggest democracy.

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