Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said the party decided to appoint Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, his sister, and Jyotiraditya Scindia to the general secretaries’ post in Uttar Pradesh because they want young leaders to change the state’s politics. He described the two as powerful leaders.

Vadra is expected to take charge from the first week of February. The move is being seen as her official entry into active politics.

Gandhi said the appointments were part of the Congress’ efforts to defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party. “We have no enmity with [Bahujan Samaj Party chief] Mayawati ji and [Samajwadi Party chief] Akhilesh ji, who have formed a coalition in the state,” Rahul Gandhi said. “I respect them. We are ready to cooperate with them wherever possible. Ultimately the aim is to defeat the BJP.”

The BSP and the Samajwadi Party had not included the Congress in their alliance in the state ahead of the Lok Sabha elections.

Rahul Gandhi said he was personally very happy that his sister would now be working with him.

The Congress president later visited Amethi, where he said that his party would contest the elections with all its might, ANI reported. “By appointing Priyanka general secretary in Uttar Pradesh, we have paved the way for a Congress chief minister,” Gandhi added.

Vadra’s party colleagues Sachin Pilot, Randeep Singh Surjewala, and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Kamal Nath also congratulated her. Her husband and industrialist Robert Vadra shared a post on social media, wishing her luck.

Congress MP Veerappa Moily said the appointments would “prove fatal” for the BJP. “It will be a mutually complementary and strong partnership,” Moily added.

Rajya Sabha Congress MP Renuka Chaudhary said Priyanka Gandhi’s appointment was a brilliant step taken by the Congress president, ANI reported. “The BJP is rattled, it should not come as a surprise, this decision is something that has been speculated forever, and I think we should all wait for more surprises just before the elections,” Chaudhary added.

Former political strategist and Janata Dal (United) leader Prashant Kishor described Priyanka Gandhi’s appointment as “one of the most awaited entries in Indian politics”. The JD(U) is an ally of the BJP. “While people may debate the timing, exact role and position, to me, the real news is that she finally decided to take the plunge!” Kishor tweeted. “Congratulations and best wishes to Priyanka Gandhi.”

A declaration of ‘Rahul Gandhi’s failure’, says BJP

Meanwhile, the BJP said the appointment of Priyanka Gandhi was an indication of the Congress’ failure on all fronts. “The Congress party is a family party, there is no doubt about it,” said party spokesperson Sambit Patra. “After being rejected from the ‘Mahagathbandhan [grand Opposition alliance]’ everywhere, the party has sought a crutch from within their own family.”

Patra accused the Congress of practising dynastic politics, ANI reported. “They consider family as the party, while BJP considers party as the family,” he added.

BJP leader and Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there was nothing unusual about the appointment and wished Priyanka Gandhi “good luck”, ANI reported. “Since party is a family concern, these kinds of postings are nothing unusual, except to say with a caveat, why she has been given limited role of only eastern UP?” Prasad asked. “Perhaps her persona merited a wider role for her.”

JP Nadda, the saffron party’s leader in charge of its affairs in Uttar Pradesh, described the appointment as the official declaration of “Rahul Gandhi’s failure”, ANI reported. “Priyanka Gandhi officially becomes general secretary of Congress, but everyone knows how this household company works,” Nadda said. “Rahul Gandhi should tell what his view of ‘parivarwadi soch [dynastic thought]’ is.”

Union Textiles Minister Smriti Irani, who had unsuccessfully contested the Lok Sabha polls against Rahul Gandhi in Amethi in 2014, also repeated the BJP’s stance on the appointment, Republic World reported. “It’s an official acceptance of Rahul Gandhi’s failure,” she said.

BJP leader and Uttar Pradesh minister Siddharth Nath Singh congratulated Priyanka Gandhi and said the Congress’ dependence on Rahul Gandhi had ended with her induction. “Rahul Gandhi’s fall is the rise of Priyanka Gandhi in the Congress,” Singh added.

The state minister said it was “good that one by one Gandhi family members are being tested in Indian politics and are being rejected”.