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

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

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—

PTI

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