BY AMITA VERMA
The Congress in Uttar Pradesh is in shambles and knives are out for party General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who has ‘failed to keep the party together’ in the state.
With a series of leaders quitting the Congress almost every day, the voices of dissent are also growing louder by the day.
The party’s debacle in the recent assembly by-elections has apparently worked as a catalyst.
The Congress contested six seats and its candidates lost deposit on four seats.
What added insult to the injury was UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu’s remark that the by-elections reflected the party’s growing influence. “We ranked second on two seats. People now appreciating our efforts to promote our ideology,” he said.
He further said, “The Congress has been constantly fighting against the BJP government. We will surely learn the right lessons from these by-election results and will plan ahead and work hard.”
A senior leader quipped, “Priyanka Gandhi has taken the ‘work from home’ concept very seriously. She has visited UP twice this year — once in February to meet activists injured in the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests in Azamgarh, and then in October to meet the family of the Dalit woman allegedly gang-raped and murdered in Hathras. She has not been to the party’s state headquarters even once and neither is she accessible to the common party worker.”
Priyanka did not even campaign for the by-elections.
The Congress leader said that while other political leaders in BJP and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were extensively touring the state, ahead of the 2022 assembly elections, the Congress was hitting at its own roots and pushing leaders out of the party.
Senior party leaders like Annu Tandon, who recently quit the party and joined Samajwadi Party, said that the ‘atmosphere in the party had become stifling’. She said that the attitude of the state leadership was ‘unacceptable’ and the leaders in charge were unwilling to address the situation.
Ankit Parihar, general secretary of the state unit who has also quit the party and joined SP, said, “It was very difficult to work in the prevailing atmosphere in the UP Congress. I was appointed as its general secretary, but I decided to quit the party because the entire organisation is in the grip of Leftists. The common worker has no say there and the workers’ voice does not each Priyanka Gandhi’s ears. No one pays any attention there.”
He said that the exodus from the Congress was getting bigger and party workers in almost every district are finding their way out.
“What is worse is the fact that there is no effort by the UPCC president to redeem the situation,” he said.
The biggest grouse in the UP Congress is against Priyanka’s private secretary, Sandeep Singh, whose unduly domineering behaviour has ruffled many feathers.
“We have been Congressmen since the past several decades and we are not going to be ruled by ultra-Left leaders who are creating a new work culture in the party. We were expelled last year without a valid procedure or reason and our request for an audience with Sonia Gandhi have not got any response. A party that does not respect its past, can never hope to build a future,” said expelled Congress leader and former MP Dr Santosh Singh.
The communication gap between leaders and workers in the UP Congress is widening rapidly and that various WhatsApp groups within the party are a testimony to the increasing resentment.
Deputy chief minister Keshav Maurya said, “Priyanka is a Twitter leader and she believes that a tweet a day will keep Congress afloat. The day is not far when the Congress will also remain a party on twitter. If the BJP is at the forefront, it is because our leaders are working at the grassroots level-whether it is Prime Minister Narendra Modi or chief minister Yogi Adityanath.”
Congress workers are now demanding a face-to-face open interaction with Priyanka Gandhi
“If there is no stock-taking of the situation, the day is not far when the Congress will end up with zero seats in the state as well as the Lok Sabha,” said a leader.