Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, will kick-start her campaign in the state by taking the river route from Prayagraj to Varanasi to reach out to the members of the backward communities who live in the area. She was supposed to be in Lukcnow on Friday but the plans were postponed.
Congress state president Raj Babbar said, “There were some problems regarding the travel plan because of which the visit has been postponed for now,” he said and added that her programmes would be finalised in “the next one or two days”.
Babbar had earlier said certain permissions for her visit were pending and there there might be some shift in the dates. Priyanka Gandhi is expected to give final shape to the party programmes and dates in Lucknow.
Speaking to reporters in Lucknow earlier in the day, Babbar said, “Gareeb jo gaon nadiyon ke kinare rehte hain..unki kya vedna hain na UP ki sarkar samajh payi na desh ki sarkar samjah payi. Unki peedaon se rubaroo ek dusare ke sath baat karne ke liye Priyanaka ji is jal marg se jane ka prayas kar rahi hain, taaki un gaon mein sidhe pahunche aur interact karen (The poor, who are living along the river… Neither the state government nor the Central government could understand their problems. Priyankaji is taking the river route to try and understand these problems. She would go to the villages so that she can directly interact with them).”
The region has a considerable population of Nishad, Kewat, Mallah, Manjhi, Bind and Machua communities that belong to the Other Backward Classes and have been demanding the Scheduled Caste status.
Party sources said that during her first tour of eastern Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi would stop at the villages along the river from Prayagraj to Varanasi and interact with the villagers. The boatsmen community have a strong presence in Prayagraj as well as Varanasi, the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Targeting the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Congress state chief said those talking about going along should sit and discuss, instead of just talking about the alliance on paper. “If they believe in defeating the BJP, their support cannot be on paper. It should be in their heart…” said Babbar adding, “Woh kehte hain sath mein.. jo sath mein hota hai to sath mein baidhke charcha paricharcha karte hain (They say that they are with us. But those who are together hold discussions, dialogue).”
While making it clear that the Congress was still open to accommodate, Babbar said the SP-BSP alliance “might think that they are strong but they should remember that the real strength is given by the people”.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was in Lucknow a month ago on a four-day visit, when she held a road show and held day-long deliberations with the party leaders from the Lok Sabha constituencies that fall under her. Since then her programmes were cancelled several times.