Days ahead of the scheduled meeting of its office-bearers with party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, the Uttar Pradesh Congress has expanded its ambit. The party has now called its former Union ministers, MPs, sitting and former MLAs as special invitees to attend the session with Rahul Gandhi on September 21.
Earlier, the party had decided to hold a workshop with about 450 office-bearers from across the state, but now it has decided to hold a forum for all the invited leaders to share their views.
“Former Union Ministers, MPs, sitting MPs and MLAs and former state presidents would also be called for the meeting as special invitees. While the session would continue for the entire day, these leaders have been invited for the first session, which would also have vice-president Rahul Gandhi,” said party state president Nirmal Khatri.
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Initially called to discuss revival of the Congress before the 2017 Assembly elections, the meeting’s main focus would now be to convey to the party cadre that despite contesting Bihar elections in an alliance, the Congress plans to go alone in Uttar Pradesh and preparations should be made accordingly, sources said.
A senior party leader said the Congress has already asked all its leaders to start calling its previous alliance with BSP and support to SP government as “blunders” of the past to itself in UP. He said extending support to the SP governments and contesting on merely 126 seats while leaving remaining 300 seats for BSP in 1996 Assembly election were certainly the party’s biggest blunder. Congress has never been able to regain itself since then, he added.
Meanwhile, the senior Congress leaders claimed that the change in the format of the meeting has no relation with former Union Minister Jitin Prasada’s letter on Wednesday, which sought to “revisit Mandal politics” and has the party questioning the reasons and timing of the request, coming on the eve of Bihar elections and amid the Patidar quota row in Gujarat.