Who is Priyanka Gandhi, Congress candidate for Wayanad Lok Sabha bypoll?

Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addresses a public meeting, in Rae Bareli, Uttar Pradesh, Tuesday, June 11, 2024. Photo: PTI.

At the age of 52, All India Congress Committee (AICC) General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is set to make her electoral debut, fulfilling long-standing requests from her party workers. She will contest the bypoll from Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency in Kerala after her brother Rahul Gandhi decided to retain Uttar Pradesh’s Raebareli seat, a Congress stronghold in the Hindi heartland. Rahul won Wayanad and Raebareli in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls with a huge margin of over three lakh votes.

Rahul had earlier promised the voters of Wayanad that he wouldn't disappoint them while deciding which constituency to retain. And the decision to field Priyanka Gandhi has now energised the region, with anticipation about having another member of the Nehru family represent them. Kerala, ruled by the CPM-led LDF in the state assembly, remains a Congress bastion for Lok Sabha representation. The state is expected to have its sole woman MP soon, as none of the nine female candidates fielded by UDF, LDF, and NDA secured a win in the recent elections.

From a royal-political family
Born in Delhi on January 12, 1972, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is the daughter of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi, and the granddaughter of politician and freedom fighter Feroze Gandhi and former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She is also the great-granddaughter of India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and the younger sister of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi.

Education; The complex phase
Priyanka attended Welham Girls' School in Dehradun until 1984. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984 and due to constant security threats, she and her brother Rahul were home-schooled. Priyanka was just 12 when Indira Gandhi was assassinated and 19 when her father Rajiv Gandhi was killed in a suicide bombing at a campaign rally.
For her higher education, Priyanka joined the Convent of Jesus and Mary in Delhi and secured a bachelor's degree in Psychology. She also earned a master's degree in Buddhist Studies in 2010. In 1997, she married Robert Vadra, a Delhi-based businessman. The couple has two children, Raihan and Miraya Vadra.

Stepping into the spotlight
Although Priyanka was not initially active in politics, she played significant roles in election campaigns for her mother and brother. Sonia Gandhi, concerned about accusations of family politics within Congress, did not encourage both of her children to enter Parliament.
But to the surprise of everyone, in the 2004 general election, Priyanka managed her mother’s campaign and supervised Rahul's. This continued till the date as she was an active participant in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections also along with Rahul.
Her official entry into politics came in 2019 when she was appointed AICC General Secretary in charge of the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh and later the entire state.

In October 2021, Priyanka Gandhi was detained twice by the UP Police. The first detention occurred after she visited Lakhimpur Kheri, where eight people were killed in clashes involving protesting farmers and the convoy of Union Minister Ajay Misra's son. Gandhi and several other party leaders were held at a PAC guest house in Sitapur, used as a temporary jail, for over 50 hours. The second detention happened in Agra, where the police, citing a ban on gatherings, stopped her while she was on her way to meet the family of a man who allegedly died in police custody.

From an early age, Priyanka's resemblance to her grandmother Indira Gandhi was noted, and as she grew older and campaigned for the party, senior leaders praised her political acumen and ability to connect with people. 

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