What’s next for Rahul, Priyanka in UP?

The Congress is desperately seeking to tap the anger of the youth, especially the students, against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government over the CAA and the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise.

New Delhi, December 25:

They might have been turned back from Meerut, but former Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his sister and party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will again attempt to visit Uttar Pradesh to meet the families of those killed in the violent protests over the new citizenship law.

While Priyanka Gandhi had earlier visited Bijnor to meet the family of one of the protesters killed, it was Rahul Gandhi’s first tour to UP as he was abroad on an official trip.

In Rahul’s absence, Priyanka Gandhi has been at the forefront of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests, at times holding sit-ins and joining the protesters at Delhi’s India Gate.

The Congress is desperately seeking to tap the anger of the youth, especially the students, against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government over the CAA and the proposed pan-India National Register of Citizens (NRC) exercise.

As general secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, Priyanka Gandhi has also kept her focus on the state, raising the issues pertaining to it and attacking chief minister Yogi Adityanath and his government over the law and order situation, especially the alleged increase in the incidents of rapes. Reports of police excesses during the CAA protests and the crackdown in the state, the Congress feels, provides the right moment for it to build a campaign against the Yogi government.

Having been decimated in UP in the 2017 assembly elections and this year’s Lok Sabha polls, the Congress is struggling to make its presence felt in the state’s political landscape.

The grand old party had dominated the politics of UP till the emergence of Mandal-Mandir issues in late 1980s. Over the years, it has been relegated to political margins. The party even lost its traditional bastion of Amethi in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections with BJP’s Smriti Irani defeating Rahul Gandhi.

While the CAA protests have infused energy in the party, the big challenge for the Congress is to ensure that the prevailing anger and protests sustain at least for some time.

In this task, Priyanka Gandhi might not seek the support of any other political outfit though the Samajwadi Party (SP) had rallied behind the Congress-led opposition against the CAA in and outside Parliament.

The SP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) too are not keen to align with the Congress in UP. The BSP did not join the opposition parties in protesting against the CAA in Parliament and did not become a part of delegation that met President Ram Nath Kovind on the issue. Mayawati’s party separately met the President.

Priyanka Gandhi has taken the first step of activating the party on the ground by reorganising district and city units, naming their new heads after years.

The appointment of new state unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu has been received well by the cadre. Known as a fighter, Lallu has vowed to make the Congress party again the “voice of the deprived” in Uttar Pradesh.

He has exhorted the workers that the only path for the Congress to move ahead is the struggle. “The manner in which the British were thrown out, the Congress too will be strengthened and brought back to power by its workers treading on the path dialogue and struggle,” he had said after taking over the Uttar Pradesh Congress chief in October this year.

The Congress has deployed its trump card in UP and much depends on how Priyanka Gandhi is able to galvanise the party workers and also win back the support of the communities that have shifted to other parties over the years.

Courtesy: Hindustan Times

 

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