Becomes Priyanka Vadra INC President

India's Congress Party counts on Priyanka Gandhi

The weakened Indian Congress Party (INC) moves with Priyanka Gandhi as figurehead in the parliamentary elections next May. The 47-year-old daughter of Sonia and Rajiv Gandhi received the party chairmanship in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh, as the daily "Times of India" reported. In the elections, the left-wing liberal Congress Party is running against the Hindu nationalist ruling party BJP led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The most populous state with more than 200 million people is considered to be particularly important politically. It has 80 MPs in the lower house in New Delhi.

Gandhi dynasty on the rise?

Priyanka Gandhi is said to bring new splendor to India's most important political dynasty. Her mother Sonia Gandhi is the widow of Prime Minister Rajiv, who was assassinated in 1991. She was party leader from 1998 to 2017, but renounced a government office. Party leader is now her son Rahul Gandhi.

Priyanka Gandhi with her brother Rahul in April 2014

The reputation of the Gandhi family, which has already provided three prime ministers, has recently suffered severely. Priyanka Gandhi is popular and can inspire people, but so far she has let her older brother Rahul go first. The mother of two is also said to have a resemblance to her famous grandmother Indira Gandhi, India's first female Prime Minister.

Controversial Rahul Gandhi

Many members of Congress have been calling for a bigger role for Priyanka Gandhi for years, especially because her brother is not making a happy figure as party leader. The 48-year-old has repeatedly raised doubts with awkward remarks and appearances as to whether he even wants to be a politician. Rahul Gandhi said he was "very happy" that his "extremely capable and hard-working sister" would now work with him. The party said Priyanka Gandhi will start work in February.

After India's independence in 1947, the Congress Party had determined and dominated national politics for decades. In the last parliamentary elections in 2014, Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist BJP became Prime Minister by a large margin. The Congress party only got 44 of 543 seats - less than ever before.

rk / kle (dpa, epd)