Youngest member of Nehru-Gandhi dynasty fires up Indian politics

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra waves to Congress Party supporters during an election campaign rally in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh on February 16, 2017.

New Delhi (CNN)Priyanka Gandhi Vadra -- the youngest member of India's Nehru-Gandhi political dynasty -- took on a formal leadership role in the main opposition Congress Party Wednesday, injecting a burst of enthusiasm among its ranks as the country gears up for general elections.

Vadra has often campaigned for the party, which is headed by her brother, Rahul. But until now, she has steered clear of an official role, ceding the limelight to her sibling, who will lead Congress as it prepares to challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the coming months.
The 47-year-old mother of two has been put in charge of Congress' election campaign in a critical battleground: the eastern half of Uttar Pradesh, India's largest and politically most significant state, with a population of some 200 million people.
    Descended from three former prime ministers -- including Jawaharlal Nehru, the country's first leader -- Vadra has long been seen as a potential political leader, with many likening her appearance and campaign style to those of her grandmother, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. She is married to businessman Robert Vadra.
    In a tweet announcing multiple appointments, the Congress Party said: "We're fired up and ready to go."
    Siblings Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi accompany their grandmother, Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, right, in Delhi on May 27, 1980.
    With national elections due to kick off in April, political activity has rocketed in the country. Fresh from a resounding victory in three state elections last year, Congress is pushing to win back some of its lost glory.
    Praising his sister, Rahul Gandhi insisted that Congress would not fight the upcoming elections on a back foot and said he had "full faith" that Priyanka would work hard.
    "We will give you a new direction. I am speaking to the youth of Uttar Pradesh. We want to complete a new dream with you. That is our goal, this is a good step and the BJP is a little worried," he added. Uttar Pradesh is home to the largest number of seats in the upcoming election.
    In a tweet, political commentator and veteran journalist Shekhar Gupta said: "The story isn't just that Priyanka Gandhi is formally entering politics. It is that she has chosen the one region most tough for Congress... This kind of go-for-broke risk-taking is uncharacteristic of Cong/Gandhi family."
    The ruling Bharatiya Jana