Congress general secretary (GS) Priyanka Gandhi on Tuesday kickstarted her campaign for the first time in south India with an election rally & corner meetings scheduled for her in poll-bound Kerala. Gandhi will canvass for her party’s candidates on Wednesday as well.

Congress leaders of Kerala welcome Priyanka Gandhi as she arrives at Kayakulam helipad. (Photo: INCIndia/ Twitter)

Congress leaders of Kerala welcome Priyanka Gandhi as she arrives at Kayakulam helipad. (Photo: INCIndia/ Twitter)

One of the youngest Congress candidates for the Kerala elections Aritha Babu welcomes Priyanka Gandhi in Kayamkulam. (Photo: INCIndia/ Twitter)

Congress is hoping to wrest power in Kerala, where it swept the 2019 Lok Sabha polls by winning 15 out of 20 seats even as it lost the national polls for the 2nd time in a row. Congress’s allies won 4 seats out of the remaining five in Kerala in 2019.

In the last assembly polls, Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) lost in Kerala after a resurgent Left notched up an emphatic victory with the state repeating its history of booting out incumbent governments. Left Democratic Front (UDF) won 91 seats in the 140-member house as the scam-ridden UDF was reduced to 47 seats with many incumbent ministers failing to win from their constituencies.

Congress’ loss was precipitated by mounting corruption charges against chief minister Oommen Chandy and the brutal rape and murder of a Dalit law student in the midst of poll campaigning, experts pointed out.

Twenty six-year-old Aritha is the youngest candidate in the poll arena in Kerala. (Photo: INCIndia/ Twitter)

Seated atop a moving vehicle along with Aritha Babu, the Congress candidate from Kayamkulam, Priyanka clad in a yellow salwar kameez, waved to the jostling crowd of people lined up on both sides of the road and also shook hands with many enthusiastic voters.

Priyanka Gandhi visits visits Aritha Babu’s house at Govindamuttam in Kayamkulam’s Puthuppally. (Photo: INCIndia/ Twitter)

“Citizens of Kollam, Kerala have come out in massive numbers to extend their immense support to Smt. @priyankagandhi and the Congress-UDF. Kerala reposes its trust in good, clean & visionary governance,” tweeted Congress. (Photo: INCIndia/ Twitter)

“Fostering young, dynamic & capable leaders for our nation’s future is a quest we at the Congress relentlessly pursue,” tweeted Congress. (Photo: INCIndia/ Twitter)

The meetings, which coincide with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s campaigning in Kerala on Tuesday, signal a larger political responsibility for Priyanka Gandhi. The Congress general secretary has largely been focussing on Uttar Pradesh, where her party has been out of power for over three decades.

Gandhi also addressing a public meeting at Karunagapally and held road shows at Kottarakkara and Kollam, before leaving for neighbouring Thiruvananthapuram. Gandhi will address a meeting at Venjaramoodu and hold roadshows at various places including coastal Poonthura. A public meeting will also be held at the coastal hamlet of Valiyathura.

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