A three-day yatra launched by Congress from New Delhi, to tell people how Uttar Pradesh has suffered in the last 27 years it had not been in power, concluded amid utter confusion in Kanpur leaving a large number of party leaders clueless about the programmes on the last day.
The “27 saal, UP behal” yatra was led by AICC general secretary in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar. Party’s CM face for 2017 polls, Sheila Dikshit, who had to leave the yatra hours after it was launched following bad health, was supposed to reach Kannauj and address a public meeting. Instead, she reached Kanpur. Congress leaders claimed that her helicopter was denied the permission to land in Kannauj.
“Sheila Dikshit could not join the meeting in Kannauj as her chopper could not land there but she reached Kanpur and participated in the road show,” said Satyadev Tripathi, chairman of the UP Congress’s communication department.
District Magistrate of Kannauj Ashok Chandra, however, told The Indian Express that the party had “sought the permission to land her helicopter on Sunday evening” and it had been granted. “We had a place in the police lines, where it could have landed. It was their decision not to come here,” the DM said.
Dikshit had won her first Lok Sabha election from Kannauj in 1984. She did not take part in the yatra after the first few hours on the first day.
Earlier in the day, during a public meeting in Hardoi, Azad sought votes for Dikshit. “People told me that in the past, they didn’t vote for Congress because there was no CM face and the leaders camp either in Lucknow or Delhi. Now, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi have given you a woman chief ministerial candidate,” Azad said, adding, “I request all the women to leave other parties and vote for Dikshit.”
On Babbar, he said that Congress now has a PCC chief who is not only a prominent face but would also be seen among public more often.
Babbar, meanwhile, targeted BSP and SP and said that while in one party, workers were not allowed to sit with their leader, in the other, workers are asked to clear the shoes of their leaders. He said that it was only Congress, which can give a clean government.
Azad left the yatra at Kannauj.
The yatra was flagged off by Sonia Gandhi from Delhi on July 23 and concluded in Kanpur covering 10 districts of western Uttar Pradesh. Though Azad led the yatra in a specially designed bus, his photograph had not been put up on the vehicle, which had among others pictures of Dikshit, Babbar, Sonia and Rahul Gandhi.