Apart from law and order and “lack of planned development”, the state Congress is planning to counter the state government on the issue of “atrocities against women by policemen” in the upcoming local body elections.
State party president Raj Babbar has been holding marathon meetings in Lucknow over the past few days discussing issues that can be raised during the elections and asking veteran Congressmen to support party candidates “keeping their differences aside”.
Since Sunday, Babbar has been having one-on-one meetings in this regard with former MLAs, MPs and veteran leaders in about 45 districts. Though the election notification is yet to come out, the party plans to finalise its candidates over the next two days. While districts are still in the process of finalising the panels, sources say district committees are getting 9-10 applications on an average from each ward and 5-10 applications for the mayor, nagar palika and parishad chairpersons.
“We have high hopes from this election, especially in urban areas as the public has started questioning decisions of the BJP, both at the Centre and the state. While law and order and lack of planned development would be the universal issues raised during this election, we would also take up the issue of atrocities against women by police, be it BHU in Varanasi or the latest brutal lathicharge on Aanganwari workers in Lucknow,” Babbar told The Indian Express.
He further said that the party has almost finalised a list of veteran Congressmen in each district with their contact numbers and addresses, and is contacting them to extend their support. “We are over a 100-year-old party, which was in power for maximum number of years. There are former MLAs, former ministers and former MPs who have distanced themselves from activities of the party. Our present task is to bring them back. We are also asking them to suggest names to the committees for candidates,” Babbar added.
On Wednesday, Babbar held a meeting with the leaders from Devipatan, Basti, Gorakhpur and Azamgarh divisions.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Congress spokesperson Virendra Madan said that in Lucknow alone, the party has received around 1,200 applications for 110 wards and there are about 11 aspirants for the post of mayor, which has been reserved for a woman this time. “There is no dearth of candidates, it is just that party wants all leaders at the district level to unanimously suggest candidates so that they can work for their victory. For the post of mayor in Lucknow, we are getting applications from doctors, teachers and even wives of businessmen,” he added.
In Varanasi, District President Prajanath Sharma said, “We have held two meetings with former MLAs, MPs and the candidates, who recently contested Assembly elections along with the district unit. We would hold one more meeting before finalising the names. While about 9-10 applicants have come from each ward, for the post of mayor, which has been reserved for an OBC woman, we have got five strong candidates and would recommend one to the state committee.”
In the last election, Congress had lost all mayor seats in the state.