Priyanka Gandhi: What you need to know about the Indian politician

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A quick guide to Priyanka Gandhi

Priyanka Gandhi is the daughter of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi. For years, she has shunned the limelight, instead preferring to support her brother, Rahul. Now, at 52, she could play a key role in the upcoming elections.

She is political royalty

Her great-grandfather was the country’s first post-independence prime minister, with both her grandmother and father following in his footsteps.

But this was no fairytale upbringing. In 1984, when she was 12, her grandmother Indira was assassinated by her own bodyguards. Seven years later, her father Rajiv was killed in a suicide bombing at a campaign rally. Ms Gandhi was just 19.

She took a long time to enter politics

Even at her father’s funeral, people were considering Priyanka as the next leader of the family’s Congress party, one of the largest in India.

Instead, Ms Gandhi, her brother Rahul and mother Sonia withdrew from the public eye. She completed a degree in psychology before getting a master's in Buddhist studies.

The next time she fully entered the public eye was at her wedding, aged 25, to businessman Robert Vadra.

People say she looks like her famous grandmother

By the late 1990s, Congress was starting to struggle and Sonia Gandhi was convinced to step back into politics. Ms Gandhi took a role behind the scenes - but that was not what supporters wanted.

From an early age, people pointed to Ms Gandhi’s resemblance to her grandmother, Indira. As she grew older and campaigned for the party, her mother and her brother, senior leaders praised her political skills and flair for engaging with people.

She lived a quiet life for years

Although she remained active behind the scenes, supporting her brother Rahul and getting involved in election campaigns, the mother of two wanted to avoid the limelight. While her husband was often seen at parties and high society events, Ms Gandhi preferred a quieter life.

Then, in 2008, she made the news after it emerged she had visited Nalini Sriharan in jail, a woman convicted in her father’s assassination case. At the time, she asked for privacy, but Sriharan later revealed how Ms Gandhi asked about her father’s killing and cried during the conversation.

In 2019, she stepped out of the shadows

Ms Gandhi's official entry into politics came when she was put in charge of the Congress campaign in the eastern part of Uttar Pradesh state, ahead of the last general election. Supporters were delighted.

Hundreds of Congress party workers - who called themselves the Priyanka Sena or Priyanka’s army - wore pink t-shirts and trousers as they cheered for her in a road show in Uttar Pradesh.

Although Congress went on to perform poorly in that general election and the state assembly polls in 2022, Ms Gandhi was not blamed.

She is now a key player in Indian politics

Ms Gandhi was named Congress’ general secretary in 2019. Rumours are now swirling that she will stand in her mother’s seat in Rae Bareli, a Congress stronghold for the last 80 years.

Posters asking for her to stand have cropped up in the area. But there has yet to be an official announcement on her running.

Ms Gandhi has other issues outside of politics

Priyanka Gandhi and her husband Robert Vadra

In recent years, federal agencies have accused her husband Mr Vadra of money laundering and tax evasion linked to controversial land purchases by his company. Mr Vadra has denied wrongdoing.

Congress called these false allegations. The party has claimed the charges are politically motivated and aimed at tarnishing the Gandhi family’s reputation.

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