Updated: June 8, 2022 6:05:04 am
Soon after the Congress’s debacle in the recent Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and four other states, party president Sonia Gandhi asked the chiefs of their party units to resign. Like his counterparts in other states, the UP Congress president, Ajay Kumar Lallu, also tendered his resignation immediately.
However, nearly three months since Lallu’s resignation, the UP Pradesh Congress Committee (UPPCC) continues to be without its head, even though the All India Congress Committee (AICC) general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is the UP in-charge. This has caused a growing sense of worry and resentment among the party rank and file in the state.
Many UP Congress leaders and workers were hoping that party leadership would appoint a new state chief ahead of the “Congress Chintan Shivir”, held in Udaipur during 13-15 May, so that the UPPCC could be represented and get a direction for its future course, but to their disappointment it did not happen. Later, they hoped that Priyanka would announce the new chief during her visit to the state last week, but in vain. She sought to boost their morale and told them that they must start working harder now, but the pending appointment of the UPPCC president has led to frustration in the party circles over the leadership’s continued “indecision”.
“She (Priyanka) is down with Covid now and everyone knows that decision (UPPCC chief’s appointment) has to be made by her as she is directly in charge of the state Congress. But, when other parties have started preparing for the coming municipal polls and even the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, we do not even have a state unit head,” said a party leader. “We fear that in an attempt to set up the best possible system for the party’s revival in UP, we might lag behind in the race.”
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A senior party leader said the selection of a new UPPCC chief was being delayed due to various reasons, which include factors like the caste and the age of the probables and the question whether a sprawling state like UP should be entrusted to only one president or if it could be split into four regions to be headed by different leaders.
“Many senior leaders want that the UPPCC command should be given to a younger leader because it is an uphill task to revive the party and that it is difficult to work under the prevailing circumstances…But this call has to be taken by Priyanka ji alone, today, tomorrow or day after,” said a party veteran, claiming that he was also approached for the job.
Party sources said among the leading UPPCC chief probables is senior Dalit leader P L Punia, the AICC in charge of Chhattisgarh. Another prominent candidate for the UPPCC president’s post is Dalit leader Brijlal Khabri, who had quit the BSP in 2016 alleging sale of tickets for money and joined the Congress. A former MP, Khabri is currently the vice-president of the Congress’s national SC department besides being the AICC secretary in-charge of Bihar. Other probables for the post include the party’s OBC face Virendra Chaudhary, one of its two MLAs, ex-MP Rajesh Mishra, and Pramod Tiwari whom the party has recently nominated for the Rajya Sabha from another state.
Sources said that the party might appoint some of its vocal faces like ex-MLA Akhilesh Pratap Singh as officiating presidents of various regions.
“The Congress leadership is mulling over various aspects on the issue of giving charge of the UPPCC to a leader,” said a senior leader, who attended the recently-held Lucknow party conclave addressed by Priyanka.
There has been resentment among some party leaders that while the UPPCC remains headless, they also do not have access to the leadership to convey their concerns and suggestions.
A leader said during Priyanka’s recent visit to the UPPCC headquarters to address the party workers for the first time after the poll debacle, “bouncers” were deployed around her. “Rather than trusting our Seva Dal workers for managing the party function, there were bouncers at the event, where no outsider was allowed. She (Priyanka) spoke of the BJP taking its ideology to every household but we could not. But, how can we do it if we do not trust our own grassroots unit like Seva Dal and empower them,” he said.
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