Lucknow, June 13, 2021-
The Congress in Uttar Pradesh is turning Left with a vengeance but its leaders, one after another, are moving towards the Right.
The party is getting increasingly isolated in the state that was once its bastion.
The party, its own leaders claim, is being taken over by young leaders from the Left-wing outfits.
“The new leadership that is being imposed in the party is left-oriented and the party high command thinks that they can revive the Congress.
“The fact, however, is that these leaders do not even understand the ideology and culture of the party. And it is this that is making other leaders quit Congress,” said former Congress leader Nadeem Ashraf Jaisi, who quit the party to join the Aam Aadmi Party, a year ago.
As leader after leader walks out of the Congress, a key member of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s team — also from a left outfit — says, albeit on condition of anonymity: “In Uttar Pradesh, party organisation and leadership is undergoing a revolutionary change. But it does not mean that old and established faces are being ignored.
“Jitin Prasada, or for that matter any other stalwart, needs to understand that politics cannot be a static affair. Leadership and responsibilities change with time.”
In November 2019, the UP Congress had expelled 10 senior leaders — two of them former ministers — for anti-party activities.
The ï¿½anti-party activities’ were that they had met at the residence of one of the leaders on Nehru Jayanti to discuss the state of affairs in the party.
“The biggest problem with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh – and also at the Centre — is that our leaders do not wish to listen and discuss.
“Since the past two years, we have been seeking an appointment with Sonia Gandhi but have failed. If a party worker cannot meet his leader, how can you expect a party to survive?” said Haji Siraj Mehndi, a former MLC and one of the 10 expelled leaders.
Almost every Congress man in the state who has been in the party for a decade, has the same grouse — there are too many leaders from the left ideology who have been imposed on the party organization.
Suddenly one finds key posts occupied by imports from Left outfits like All India Students’ Association (AISA) and Rihai Manch.
Starting from Sandeep Singh, Priyanka Gandhi’s personal assistant, who is from AISA, there is an influx of young leaders from Left outfits handling key positions like administration head and social media in-charge.
Sandeep Singh was a former AISA president at JNU. Mohit Pandey, another former AISA functionary, is the social media head of UPCC. Shahnawaz Husain, formerly with Rihai Manch which is known for its advocacy of terror suspects, is now head of UPCC’s minority cell.
A former UPCC spokesman said: “I have stopped coming to the party office because this is not the culture that I have lived with. You have leaders wearing shoes and putting their feet up on the table. They move around with cigarettes in their hands and do not think twice before using abusive language. They have not yet grown out of student politics and do not know the dignity that a politician should maintain.”
As the Congress increasingly depends on its left-wing leaders, its own leaders have turned Right — towards the BJP — with Jitin Prasada being the latest example.
In the past few months, the Congress has lost a number of senior leaders to the BJP.
Former UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi was among the first to switch over to the Right before the assembly elections in 2017.
Congress MLC Dinesh Singh left the Congress in 2018 to join the BJP.
In 2019, former MPs Ratna Singh and Sanjay Singh walked into the BJP, followed by former MLA Ameeta Singh.
Former MLA Jagdambika Pal had opted for BJP in 2014.
Talking to IANS, one of the erstwhile Congress leaders who has joined BJP, said: “The problem with the Congress leadership is that they just do not seem to care. I did not wish to leave the Congress but when I found that my leaders were not even responding to what I wanted to say, I decided to walk out. After all, I am in politics and cannot afford to sit at home till my leaders begin smelling the coffee.”
He admitted that he would not have left the Congress if the leadership had given him an appointment to air his grievances.
Haji Siraj Mehndi said: “As people from AISA and Rihai Manch have become the pivot of the party, staunch Gandhi loyalists who bore the brunt of the crackdown of anti-Congress regimes and stood by the party through thick and thin have been bundled out by none other than Indira’s granddaughter Priyanka.”
Most of the former UPCC presidents and senior leaders have withdrawn from the state party unit. They do not visit the party office and neither are they welcomed.
It is noteworthy that the Uttar Pradesh Congress has been in trouble since the nineties when ï¿½Mandal’ politics propped up the caste politics and, almost simultaneously, the Ayodhya movement fueled communal politics.
The Congress was gradually left out of the playing field.
The party made a sincere effort to revive itself before the 2017 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh when Sheila Dixit was projected as a chief ministerial candidate and Raj Babbar was state chief.
With the slogan, “27 Saal, UP Behaal”, the Congress built up a momentum and Rahul Gandhi began emerging as a politician to watch out for.
However, midway through the campaign, the Congress high command decided to ally with the Samajwadi Party which they had been targeting in their campaign.
The party lost credibility and workers their enthusiasm.
The Congress in Uttar Pradesh now gasps for survival, not revival.
The seven-member legislature party has been reduced to five after two MLAs — both from Rae Bareli — have turned rebels.
One of the party MLAs, said: “It is time that the Congress leadership woke up to reality. If they are not willing to listen, talk and discuss, how can they expect people to remain with them?” (Agency)