DOORS OPEN New Chief, Team Likely As Cong Plans to Go Solo in UP
Names of Pramod Tiwari, Rajesh Mishra, Jitin Prasada & Rajesh Pati Tripathi doing the rounds
Cong may forge limited partnerships with smaller parties
Our Political Bureau
New Delhi: A d ay a f t er t he Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party announced a tie-up in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress braced itself for going it alone or forging limited partnerships with smaller parties in the country’s most populous state where it had won just two out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats the last time round. T he Cong re ss may appoint a new state chief, probably a Brahmin, and recast its leadership in UP as part of efforts to enthuse workers and supporters, said people aware of the matter. They indicated that names of Rajesh Mishra, Pramod Tiwari, Jitin Prasada and Rajesh Pati Tripathi were doing the rounds.
PartypresidentRahulGandhiwill starttouringUPsoon,theysaid,and address a number of public meetings and farmers’ rallies in every zone of the state. He may also take a holy dip in the Ganga during the upcoming Kumbh Mela, they said.
While the SP-BSP alliance, with stronger social and organisational bases, is trying to project itself as the main adversary of the BJP, the Congress hopes its recent success in wresting three BJP-ruled heartland states will have an impact in UP as well, a Congress leader said on condition of anonymity.
The party hopes to win the support of sections of upper castes, Muslims and Dalits, although the state Congress organisation stands eroded as the party suffered a rout again in the assembly election in 2017, when it won just
seven out of 403 seats. Its best solo per for mance in recent years was in 2009, when it overtook the SP’s tally after bypolls to emerge as the single largest party in the state with 23 seats while the SP won 22 and the BSP 20. In 2014, when it won two seats,theSPwonfiveseatswhilethe BSP failed to win any seats.
“The Congress is prepared to fight in all 80 seats in order to defeat BJP and to emerge as the single largest party from UP as we did in 2009,” Ghulam Nabi Azad, the party’s general secretary in-charge of UP, said at a presser in Lucknow on Sunday. “Everyone knows that Parliament fightisbetweentheCongressandthe BJP. We’ll certainly take the help of like-mindedpartiesandrespectsuch parties who are fighting the BJP.”
Congress members cited earlier said the party is open to seat-sharing talks with Ajit Singh’s INLD, a faction of Apna Dal, Peace Party and a few more local parties.
However, the Congress is unlikely to field candidates against SP and BSP leaders such as Akhilesh Yadav, Mulaya m Si ng h a nd Mayawati. Besides, the Congress may be open to cooperating with other parties in fielding a united opposition candidate against PM Narendra Modi in Varanasi.
GHULAM NABI AZAD
Azad and UP Congress chief Raj Babbar addressing a press conference in Lucknow—