LUCKNOW: Despite facing a brutal drubbing in 2014, Congress bigwigs in Uttar Pradesh are upbeat about their chances in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls thanks to newly appointed general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra who has been tasked with refurbishing the party in the country’s most crucial state.
"Priyanka ji's mere presence has invigorated the entire workforce in the state where the party was gasping and battling for survival," says a senior Congress leader in Lucknow. The euphoria is visible not only among the cadre. Even party stalwarts like RPN Singh, Salman Khursheed, SP Jaiswal, PL Punia -- all national faces - are pulling up their socks to fight the big battle from their respective constituencies.
The party organisation is being spruced up in all 80 Lok Sabha seats, with new office bearers being appointed. First rung state leaders like present UPCC chief Raj Babbar, former UPCC chief Nirmal Khatri and prominent Congress face of western UP Imran Masood may contest again.
Last week, UPCC chief Raj Babbar had convened a meeting of the UP Congress’s election committee. According to party sources, a list of probables has been sent to the high command. After due deliberations,
the top leadership is likely to announce its first official list of candidates for UP anytime now.
As has been reported earlier by this newspaper, the grand old party is focusing on over two dozen seats which it had won in 2009. In fact, the 2009 performance was one of the best shows of the Congress
in UP when it won 22 seats. However, that number dwindled to just 2 in 2014 under the Modi wave.
Meanwhile, in order to revive the crumbling party organisation which had been casting a shadow on the party’s performance in UP for the last three decades, the Congress high command is now taking a number of steps. The first being the anointment of six secretaries—three for eastern UP and three for western UP—directly reporting to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is in charge of eastern UP, and Jyotiraditya Scindia, her western counterpart.
While AICC general secretaries, Sachin Naik, Zubair Khan and Bajirao Khade are attached to Priyanka and have been assigned constituencies of east Uttar Pradesh, Rana Goswami, Dhiraj Gurjar and Rohit
Chaudhary are attached to Jyotiraditya Scindia and have been given responsibilities for constituencies
situated in west UP.
The newly appointed team of secretaries has been asked to tour the state and gather feedback from the grassroots about the winnability of party probables. This follows Priyanka's roadshow through the streets of Lucknow and marathon meetings by her and Jyotiraditya at UPCC headquarters to get the pulse of the ground themselves. The new secretaries are expected to give their reports on eastern and western UP to the high command by March 7.