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Delay in naming candidates for Raebareli & Amethi part of Cong’s strategy, says Avinash Pandey

Lucknow, April 6, 2024
AICC General Secretary in-charge of Uttar Pradesh, Avinash Pandey, has said that the delay in announcing the Congress candidates for the Raebareli and Amethi Lok Sabha seats is part of the party’s strategy.

In an exclusive interview with IANS, the former Rajya Sabha MP spoke at length on a range of issues, from INDIA bloc’s poll prospects in Uttar Pradesh to the alleged lack of coordination between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, and more.

Excerpts:

IANS: How is the Congress preparing for the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh? What is the party’s strategy?

Avinash Pandey: The preparations have been going on in Uttar Pradesh for a while now. The INDIA bloc is fielding candidates in all the 80 Lok Sabha seats in the state. All the constituents of the INDIA bloc are gearing up together for the victory of the alliance nominees and the defeat of the BJP. We are going to fight this election strongly.

IANS: Doubts persist over who will be the Congress candidates for Raebareli and Amethi. Is the delay not having a demoralising effect on the party workers?

Avinash Pandey: There is no such doubt among the party workers. Rather, there is enthusiasm in the Congress. The organisation is also fully prepared. The candidates (for Raebareli and Amethi) will be announced at an appropriate time as per the party’s policy. The delay is part of the party’s strategy.

IANS: Will there be candidates from the Gandhi family for these two seats?

Avinash Pandey: A decision on this count will be announced soon. You will also be informed regarding the same.

IANS: The BJP is repeatedly saying that the Congress ran away from Amethi out of fear. What is your take?

Avinash Pandey: If the BJP is confident about its slogan ‘Abki baar 400 par’, why is it afraid? Why is it trying to topple elected governments? Why are Chief Ministers being sent to jail? This should have been done after the allegations were proven.

The ED, CBI, and other constitutional institutions are being misused. But this time the public will oust the BJP from power, and that is why it is frustrated.

IANS: There are speculations about a dispute between Rahul and Priyanka’s teams. Is there no coordination between the two?

Avinash Pandey: There is coordination between both leaders. Right now, the opponents are only trying to spread rumours. There is no truth in them.

This country cannot forget the contributions of the Gandhi family, including that of Rahul Gandhi, Priyanka Gandhi, and Sonia Gandhi. This family has contributed to everything, from the freedom movement to nation-building. And there is no such example in the BJP or the other parties.

IANS: How many Congress candidates are in the election fray in UP till now?

Avinash Pandey: Out of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP, the Congress will contest 17 seats. We have announced 13 candidates so far. One or two candidates will be announced today or tomorrow. The rest of the seats will be contested by INDIA bloc nominees from other parties. We are confident of securing victory on maximum seats in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

IANS: When will the Common Minimum Programme of the Samajwadi Party and the Congress come out? What strategies have been made?

Avinash Pandey: There is a Common Minimum Programme that the INDIA bloc will follow. We are giving final touches to it. The Congress manifesto has already been announced, which also covers state-level issues. We will now reach out to the public with the same. Our allies will also help us take this to the masses.

IANS: Some parties that took part in the Rahul Gandhi-led Bharat Jodo Nyay Yatra are reportedly deciding to go solo in the polls… What’s your take?

Avinash Pandey: No alliance party is contesting the elections separately. There might be some individuals. They need to consider that such actions will probably strengthen the BJP. They need to be concerned about the forces that weaken the Constitution and democracy, and not allow them to gain strength. The INDIA bloc was formed against such forces.

IANS: What’s your take on Pallavi Patel and Swami Prasad Maurya?

Avinash Pandey: Talks are going on with Pallavi Patel. She was also present at the Mumbai meeting (of INDIA bloc).

Even the thought of leaving the alliance is unfortunate. Every small force can become stronger only after meeting a bigger force. Currently, there is a dictatorial attitude in the country which we must combat collectively to protect the Constitution.

IANS: There seems to be no coordination between the SP and the Congress. The two were not seen together even at the Holi Milan programme…

Avinash Pandey: The programme was organised by the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee. It was a meeting of our officials, senior leaders, and frontal organisations. Friends were also invited and most of them were present.

We have also organised Roza-Iftar today evening. Our Jamaat community and other social leaders associated with the Congress are also going to participate in it. There is no need to give it a political twist. This is a cultural programme.

IANS: Are there still some expectations left from the Bahujan Samaj Party?

Avinash Pandey: The door to the INDIA bloc was always open for them. Mayawati is a senior and experienced leader, who, along with Kanshi Ram, struggled for a long time. They contributed to the upliftment of a community. Mahatma Gandhi also dreamed about this. She (Mayawati) was needed in the INDIA bloc yesterday, and she is needed even today.

IANS: How is your party viewing the death of Mukhtar Ansari?

Avinash Pandey: It was a very unfortunate incident. With his family members now beginning to have doubts, the matter should be investigated. Something wrong might have happened.(Agency)

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