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Priyanka promises to visit every district in UP to rebuild Congress

She was more interested in working out a road map for the future than in analysing the causes of defeat: Sources

By Sanjay K. Jha in New Delhi

  • Published 17.06.19, 3:19 AM
  • Updated 17.06.19, 7:14 AM
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addresses an election rally, at Basti district, on May 10, 2019.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra addresses an election rally, at Basti district, on May 10, 2019. (PTI)

Priyanka Gandhi Vadra knows that reviving the Congress in Uttar Pradesh would be a long haul and is trying to convince local leaders that the poor showing in the general election shouldn’t be taken as a measure of the party’s true potential in the state.

She met the party’s district coordinators from eastern Uttar Pradesh at Rahul Gandhi’s home on Saturday and promised to visit every district to rebuild the organisation before the next Assembly polls in 2022.

Priyanka, Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh, has interacted with a large number of party workers and politicians since the general election, including several candidates and office-bearers in Rae Bareli a few days ago.

Saturday’s meeting with the district coordinators was aimed at obtaining a deeper understanding of the organisational problems facing the party and the possible remedies.

Sources said Priyanka was more interested in working out a road map for the future than in analysing the causes of defeat. She knows that the Mayawati-Akhilesh Yadav alliance had ruined the Congress’s chances in most of the constituencies.

Priyanka has made it clear that strong action would be taken against any internal saboteurs, and that coteries driven by vested interests would be demolished.

She has attracted some criticism for what some observers described as “threatening party workers of Rae Bareli”, the only seat the party won in the state. But Congress leaders who were present said Priyanka had got angry at that meeting with party office-bearers from Amethi who she believed had sabotaged Rahul in his constituency and kept feeding her wrong information.

There have been complaints that some in the party had changed their loyalties at the last minute for lure of money, and that the local Congress minders had neither responded to popular discontent nor informed her correctly. She made it clear that heads would roll in every district from where genuine allegations of anti-party activities had come.

At Saturday’s meeting, Priyanka was told about a disconnect between the systems developed by local leaders and the district unit that often caused disharmony between the party workers and the candidate.

Among the other complaints were allegations of local Congress politicians colluding with other parties, the absence of booth committees, an inability to match the BJP’s resources and an inadequate presence on social media.

Another complaint was that some candidates had turned their constituencies into their own fiefs where only “networkers” and sycophants thrived at the expense of loyalists who longed to work for the party, not individuals.

Priyanka promised to change this culture and create new mechanisms that ensured that the party workers had a say. She promised to meet the workers directly at least twice a week.

She was told that the break-up between the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party had created a new opening for the Congress.

Most of the district coordinators insisted that the people were fed up with Mayawati and the Samajwadis and that the Yogi Adityanath government too was losing popularity, no matter how many parliamentary seats the BJP had won. They suggested the Congress would gain heavily if Priyanka were projected as the next chief minister.

Few Congress workers are in favour of pre-poll alliances and want the central leadership to declare the intent to go it alone at the very outset. Clarity on this aspect will come later after an analysis of the poll results, but a growing number of party workers, at least in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, want the party to shun the “lazy and easy” escape route of coalitions.