Congress fights Congress ahead of UP polls

As the countdown begins for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, scheduled to be held in early 2022, all political parties are putting their house in order but the Congress in UP is busy fighting itself.

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As the countdown begins for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, scheduled to be held in early 2022, all political parties are putting their house in order but the Congress in UP is busy fighting itself. To profess their loyalty to the party high command after last week's Congress Working Committee meeting where a letter written by 23 senior party leaders kicked up a huge controversy, Congress leaders are now targeting the 'dissenters'.

The first to face flak was former Union minister Jitin Prasada. The Lakhimpur Kheri unit passed a resolution demanding his expulsion from the party for being a signatory to the controversial letter. DCC chief Prahalad Patel claimed that it had been passed under pressure from an office bearer of the state-level Congress leadership.

Instead of dousing the flames of revolt, the UPCC leadership maintained a studied silence on the issue. An unverified audio clip of conversation between two local Congress leaders revealed that the demonstration against Prasada was staged at the behest of a senior party leader and some labourers had been hired to shout slogans.


UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu, interestingly, defended the outburst saying that some party workers wanted to convey their feelings to the party high command. Soon after, former Congress MLC Naseeb Pathan put out a video message demanding veteran leader Ghulam Nabi Azad's ouster from the party. "As he has broken the party discipline, he should be made 'Azad' and expelled from the party," Pathan stated.

Naseeb Pathan, incidentally, was one of Azad's staunchest loyalists in the UP Congress at one time. Now, former Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Nirmal Khatri has accused Azad of forcing the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance on the party in the 2017 Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh. The Congress ended up with the lowest number of seats - just seven - in the state Assembly in 2017.

"As far as I know, Rahul Gandhi too was opposed to the alliance, but probably kept quiet due to Azad's obstinate and defeatist political thinking. His principles of political science are focused on politics of alliance," said Khatri in a post on the social media, directly targeting Azad.
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The former UPCC chief said, "Azad in his interview had said that for the past 23 years, elections to the Congress Working Committee (CWC) were not held. The question is that when in these 23 years, he himself was a nominated member to the working committee, why did he not raise the question then?"

Khatri said that "I also feel that elections should be held at every level. But, leaders like you believed the nominated way to be a better one and derived pleasure from it. I am of the view that there is no threat to the integrity of the country, but there is a certain threat to the integrity of the Congress." Apart from this, a group of young Congress leaders are already gunning for the state leadership's scalp over the party's failure to run on an inclusive basis.

The leaders, in their WhatsApp group, hurled allegations at the UPCC chief, accusing him of ignoring upper castes and promoting OBCs in the party. These leaders also claim that Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is being misled by her aides about the state of affairs in the UP Congress.

Meanwhile, the party has not shown any inclination to revoke the expulsion of 10 senior leaders though it is noteworthy that Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi revoked the expulsion of senior party leader Shakeel Ahmad recently. Ahmad had been expelled from the Congress last year after he contested the Lok Sabha election from Madhubani in Bihar as an independent candidate.
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