The first meeting of the Congress’ Lok Sabha election committee in Uttar Pradesh on Wednesday couldn’t make much headway other than empowering the party’s state chief to finalise the candidates’ list.
After the meeting that was marked by the absence of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi, among six other members of the poll committee, Congress state chief Nirmal Khatri and state incharge Madhusudan Mistry said the process for screening the prospective candidates would begin soon.
On his part, Rahul couldn’t attend the meeting as he went to the Amethi constituency, where his emerging rival from the AAP, Kumar Vishwas, had already started campaigning.
Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, known for having a strained relationship with the regional leaders, also gave the meeting a miss. It was on January 18, soon after an AICC session, that the party high command constituted a high-power committee comprising Rahul, all Union ministers from the state and senior party leaders.
This is, however, not the first time an entire exercise has turned futile. The party had assigned different zones of the state to all the Union ministers and asked them to report about the potential candidates and the state of party affairs in their respective zones. But the ministers neither toured their regions nor submitted any report, making the exercise a non-starter.
Similarly, with the NSUI and Youth Congress remaining all but defunct in the state, Rahul’s attempts to bring the youth to the forefront of the party organisation haven’t succeeded either. It may be recalled that Beni had said the party was “in a state of inertia”. He further attacked the state leaders, saying they had been selling election tickets for the last 20 years, to ensure their rivals’ victory.
AICC general secretary Mistry said a pilot project involving office-bearers from the district to the block level had been launched for candidate selection and that two constituencies -- Varanasi and Khalilabad -- picked from out of 17 in the country. Commenting on BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Mistry said the Gujarat Chief Minister was selling combs to bald persons and asked what would he do for the country, now that he hadn’t been able to bring about “any real change” in his state.
Mistry further asked why Modi hadn’t declared his constituency if he thought he could win from anywhere in the country. However, he admitted that the UPA had failed in properly marketing its achievements while the Opposition had successfully “unleashed false propaganda” against the Centre.