A decision on whether political parties will be allowed to hold physical rallies in states going to polls starting next month will be taken today at a review meeting of the Election Commission. Physical campaigning was banned by the Commission – until January 15 first and later extended till January 22 – amid an unprecedented surge in cases of coronavirus in the country believed to be driven by the highly transmissible Omicron variant.
The poll body will today meet with the Union Health Secretary, and the Chief Secretaries and Health Secretaries of states headed for polls to take stock of the situation.
The five states – Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, and Goa – will submit the current status of vaccination and caseload in the virtual meeting.
Meanwhile, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra dropped a bombshell Friday morning when she hinted she could be the Congress’s chief ministerial candidate for the Uttar Pradesh election. Hours later, she said she meant it in a “tongue-in-cheek” way.
But she did not rule out contesting the election. If she does, she will be third debutant in this UP election after Yogi Adityanath and Akhilesh Yadav.
“I was being a bit tongue-in-cheek. Because I am asked this question… every second question is the same question,” Priyanka Gandhi said in an interview to NDTV.
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The Congress can be led by a non-Gandhi, but till the matter of leadership is resolved, Rahul Gandhi cannot “close his doors” if asked for advice, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra told NDTV on Friday in an exclusive interview. She said proper organisational elections will be held where anyone can contest for the post of the party president, but added a rider, suggesting that many grassroot level workers feel more comfortable with a Gandhi at the helm.
“I don’t think on our part, my mother or my brother, or me, we have any idea… or any entitlement to being leaders of the Congress Party… I certainly don’t. I know that my brother doesn’t. I know my mother doesn’t. We would only be too happy if somebody else rose from the ranks and everybody had faith in them and wanted them to lead,” she said.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra admitted on Friday that there was a real possibility of election strategist Prashant Kishor joining the Congress last year but “it did not work out.”
The Congress leader told NDTV that the partnership fell through over “multiple” reasons.
“I think it did not work out for multiple reasons. Some on his part, some on our part. I wouldn’t want to get into the details of that. Broadly there was an inability to agree on certain issues, which sort of impeded the discussion from moving forward,” Priyanka Gandhi said.