Rae Bareli: Ending speculations that she could be getting ready to contest the 2014 General Elections, Priyanka Gandhi on Wednesday stressed that she was not joining politics.
Speaking to CNN-IBN, Priyanka said that it was a general practice for her to visit Rae Bareli and had nothing to do with her joining politics.
She said, "I am not joining politics. There is nothing new about my interacting with workers in Rae Bareli and Amethi."
Priyanka, who is widely believed to be the next from the Gandhi family to join politics, said that she visited Rae Bareli and Amethi only to look at organisational issues that have cropped up.
"I travel to Rae Bareli every now and then to look at organisational issues that have cropped up," said Priyanka.
The statement assumes significance as it comes on a day when her brother Rahul Gandhi has been facing criticism from the Samajwadi Party, a key supporter of the UPA government.
"Rahul Gandhi lacks the ability to run the country. He has not been able to rise up to the challenge," said Samajwadi Party general secretary Mohan Singh.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also hit out at the Gandhi scion with party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy saying, "We never heard him speaking on big issues…we never heard him speaking on speaking on corruption."
The main Opposition party also said that the performance of Rahul over the years speaks for itself, pointing that the Congress general secretary had failed to leave his mark in the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.
The criticism of the Gandhi scion came even as there were reports that the Congress is unlikely to pitch him against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the state assembly elections later in 2012.
According to sources, the Congress does not want a full-blown Modi vs Rahul war as Gujarat elections are expected to be dominated by local issues and the development work carried out by the Chief Minister in the state. Aggressive campaigning by central leaders, including Rahul Gandhi, is likely to prove counter productive as it will give a chance to Modi to target the UPA more prominently on corruption and slow economic growth.
Rahul will also continue to maintain his silence on major controversies affecting the party. Sources say although he will campaign in Gujarat, but will maintain a low profile and will campaign like any other Congress general secretary.
Sources say this is a part of Congress's strategy to minimise Rahul's exposure against Modi, considering it comes at a time when Rahul is being seen as Congress's potential Prime Ministerial candidate for 2014 and Modi is being seen as BJP's potential candidate.
The Congress wants the Gujarat polls to be based on local issues and not a Rahul vs Modi face-off. The Congress also wants to play it safe with Rahul's youth membership drive failing and touching an all time low.