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What impact will Priyanka Gandhi make? Hear it from Prashant Kishor

By Anuj Cariappa
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New Delhi, Feb 12: Poll strategist-turned-politician Prashant Kishor said Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra might not be able to "turn things around" for her party in the few months left for the Lok Sabha polls.

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra

The Janata Dal (United) national vice president, however, said she was a big name and a popular face, who could emerge as a force to reckon with in the long run.Kishor's remarks came on the day when Priyanka made her political debut with her arrival in Lucknow, where she will meet senior Congress leaders and party office bearers over the next three days.She arrived at the Lucknow airport to a rousing reception by party leaders and workers who showered rose petals and threw marigold garlands at her as her cavalcade slowly made its way through the city during a roadshow.

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Asked whether he saw Priyanka emerging as a rival to Congress president and her brother Rahul Gandhi, Kishor replied in the negative."Rahul Gandhi is the party president while Priyanka Vadra is among the many national general secretaries, but her entry will have an impact in the long run," he said. "I had, on record, welcomed her induction into the party. I felt that her active participation could have helped the Congress in Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls. But now it is a different context," he said.

"Nobody has a magic wand. I do not think she will be able to turn things around for the Congress in the two-three months that are left for the Lok Sabha polls. But she is a big name and a popular face. In the long run, yes she would emerge as a challenge (to the NDA)," Kishor told reporters here. Responding to a question about the 'mahagathbandhan' (grand alliance) in Bihar, of which the Congress is a part, the JD(U) leader said any coalition comprising of five or more parties may appear strong, but its chances of achieving electoral success are not very high.

"But, if the 'mahagathbandhan' manages to do well, it would serve as a learning experience for all of us," Kishor said. Besides Congress, the 'mahagathbandhan' also comprises Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Rashtriya Lok Samta Party (RSLP), Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) and Vikasheel Insaan Party (VIP).Kishor exuded confidence that the BJP-led NDA would return to power at the Centre."As far as I can see, the NDA looks poised to return to power (at the Centre). How many seats it is going to win, I cannot predict (that)," he said.

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In Bihar, the NDA has only three constituents and is relatively stable. The number of seats for each alliance partner has already been agreed upon and it is just a matter of time before the constituencies are also finalised, he added.Kishor further said he did not think issues like demonetisation and GST would have an adverse impact on the NDA's prospects in the parliamentary elections. Events that took place within six months before the elections play a far more important role than those that occurred two or three years ago, he said.

Speaking about speculations that RSLP leader Nagmani, who resigned from the party on Sunday, could join the JD(U), Kishor said he had no knowledge.He, however, said former Bihar Congress president Ram Jatan Sinha was likely to join the party on Tuesday.Kishor clarified that the JD(U) was not poaching leaders of other parties. If anybody expresses faith in the leadership of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, there is no harm in taking him or her along, he said.

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