New Delhi: It is roughly three months since Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was appointed the Congress general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh (East) amidst fanfare. And she has been campaigning extensively in UP, with the main focus though on Amethi, Raebareli (the constituencies of her brother and mom) and places like Varanasi.

So how effective has her campaign been? How good have her strategies been? Is she adequate at inspiring her party workers and are her efforts getting traction among the public? 

These are some of the questions that beg an answer. 

Of course, whether a campaign has worked or not is something that only the eventual poll result can answer firmly. But we can reach an informed position through general pointers available all around.

And the fact that the Congress is still dilly-dallying over the possible candidature of Priyanka (from Varanasi or any other constituency) sends out the signals that the situation is not as conducive as the party would have wanted it to be.

Right from March, the Congress has been carefully floating the idea that Priyanka might be fielded in UP, especially in Varanasi to openly challenge Prime Minister Narendra Modi. And every time Priyanka herself was queried on the subject, she would deadpan with the oldest cliche in any Congress person's book: "It is for the party to decide."  

She said this as recently as yesterday (Tuesday): "Party ne abhi faisla nahi kiya, agar karenge to pata chal jayeg. Baar Baar kaha hai ki jo party kahegi main karungi (The party has not decided on my candidature. Whenever it decides, everyone will know. I have been saying again and again that I will follow the party line),” she said during a chat with newspersons. Even Rahul Gandhi had recently said (on his sister contesting the polls), "I will leave you in suspense."

Uncharitable as it may sound, but the sum and substance of all of this seems: We are clueless here.

One of the reasons why the Congress looks to be so unsure of itself is it has been unable to make any headway on the alliance front in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress had hoped that by blooding Priyanka in UP as a general secretary it could not only inspire the party workers but also send out some positive vibes to potential allies. 

But Priyanka magic (if that is the word) never seemed to click with other parties. Despite Congress' desperate backroom efforts to chisel a consolidated alliance against the BJP, parties like the SP and the BSP were not ready to play ball. If anything, they joined forces and announced that they would confront both the BJP and the Congress.

This was a major setback to the Congress, as Uttar Pradesh is deemed a weathercock State, as it more or less shows which way the political wind is blowing in the country. But undaunted, the Congress did try to work out some kind of strategic tie-ups in certain pivotal seats.

It was in the backdrop of this hope, the Congress let fly the trial balloon that Priyanka could take the field in Varanasi. But as it happened, again the SP and the BSP refused to budge. On Monday, the SP named its candidate for the Varanasi seat to challenge the might of Modi.

This was a major blow for the Congress, and it clearly shows that it is unable to command any sway with other political parties there.

"Priyanka has not been able to establish any kind of rapport with parties like SP and BSP," says Umesh Prakash, a Hindi journalist in Uttar Pradesh. "She also comes across as being standoffish, and in the position that the Congress finds itself now, such an attitude is never going to work. You have to reach out to potential allies with certain amount of humility."

On the field, too, her campaigns are said to be on predictable lines as she does her patented Indira Gandhi clone act and goes through the motions of accusing the BJP and Modi. "There is not much flair. She is a more natural public speaker than her brother. But that is about it," adds Umesh.

In general, the feeling is that the Indira Gandhi look-alike strategy has faded. Despite her outward confidence as a person, Priyanka, experts opine, has no clear-cut political strategy. Her speeches sound the same. Some innovation and novelty is needed in her campaign, but it has not come through so far. But she has to bring her A-game to the table if the Congress hopes to achieve what it wanted to.  

But with the last leg of the campaign fast approaching, Priyanka has only little time on her hands. As of now, the Congress is looking unsure. Unfortunately for the party, so does Priyanka.