NEW DELHI: The famous call of the INA ‘Dilli Chalo’ seems to have been turned on its head, now it’s ‘Lucknow chalo’. Both BJP and Congress, are bent on giving their best shot at the 2017 Uttar Pradesh assembly elections. If the BJP held its national executive in Allahabad, the Congress is all set to have a brainstorming session in Lucknow. But prior to that, a few announcements could be expected.
Veteran Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, just given charge of UP specifically in hope of changing the party’s fortunes with his Midas touch in a state that it once ruled, indicated that Priyanka Gandhi may be drafted in to campaign across the state.
“The workers of the party want Priyanka Gandhi to step out of Amethi and Rae Bareli and campaign for the Congress in the rest of the state. We’re hoping, the workers are keen, that she finds time to take on this responsibility,” Azad said.
After having skirted the question on the day he took charge, Azad on Wednesday said this, in what appeared to be an attempt at building pressure on the Congress president’s daughter. It was fine balancing done in a manner that it does not appear that the party vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s brand equity is down.
“We are expecting that Priyanka Gandhi will agree to help and share Rahulji’s work in UP,’’ he added. The idea of drafting Priyanka was first floated by Prashant Kishor, the poll strategist Congress has hired. It was rumoured that she would be the party’s chief campaigner in the state. Quite significantly, Azad’s statements came after he had a meeting with Rahul Gandhi.
Though initially reluctant to come out to assume any formal role for the party beyond the family’s interests and her behind-the-scene work for Rahul, Priyanka’s said to have agreed to consider. Incidentally, Priyanka’s Facebook account has been rather active of late, she has been posting rare photographs of the Gandhi family in one of her accounts, while posting her own campaign shots in another.
Azad will himself be going off on a two-day tour of UP, mainly the Lucknow region, to sense the pulse, which will be followed by the brainstorming session. The party claims that a few thousand workers, some of them newly-drafted with photo identity cards, are expected to attend the session.
The Congress structure in the state has debilitated over theyears. The UP PCC is also expected to be revamped. The Congress may appoint Jitin Prasad as the state party chief.