Last Updated on 02/03/2022 by Nidhi Khandelwal
In an unprecedented move, India’s main opposition Congress party has allocated 40% of its assembly seats to female candidates in the ongoing assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state with over 200 million citizens.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, the daughter of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the party’s current president, Italian-born Sonia Gandhi, is the driving force behind the Congress’s move. Priyanka Gandhi is the younger sister of Rahul Gandhi, the former Congress president.
Despite being a member of India’s most powerful political family, the 50-year-old – who is married to billionaire Robert Vadra and has two children – is a latecomer to active politics, having previously limited herself to campaigning for her mother and brother during parliamentary elections.
That changed in 2019, when she was assigned the task of reviving the Congress in the politically key state of Uttar Pradesh, which the party had dominated for decades until the advent of the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and caste-based regional parties in the 1990s.
Priyanka shares her thoughts on the need to empower more women, the BJP’s religious politics targeting minorities, particularly Muslims, and what her party is doing to combat it in an interview with Al Jazeera.