NEW DELHI: Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) looks set to get a new chief, with Priyanka Gandhi zeroing in on MLA Ajay Kumar Lallu, much to the discomfort of senior leaders of the state unit.
Priyanka Gandhi, Congress General Secretary in-charge of Eastern Uttar Pradesh, has indicated that she is going to appoint Lallu as UPCC chief, replacing Raj Babbar, sources close to her said on Wednesday.
An official announcement in this regard is expected soon, they said.
Lallu, an MLA from Tamkuhi Raj in Eastern UP, is Leader of Congress Legislative Party in UP.
Justifying Lallu's imminent selection, the sources said Priyanka zeroed in on him because he is working on the ground, unlike many "senior leaders of the UPCC who do not have base in UP but operate from Delhi."
But senior Congress leaders of the state are unhappy over the move as they feel it would not be appropriate to appoint a person who is "new" to the party.
The leaders have made their displeasure known to the party high command but Priyanka Gandhi has made up her mind, a source told IANS.
The source added that Priyanka is impressed with the performance of Lallu who has accompanied her in every agitation, including the high pitched Ganga Yatra before the elections and also the Sonbhadra agitation after the shooting incident.
Many Congress leaders have suggested to the top leadership that a Brahmin could have been a better choice to lead the party in the state which is sharply divided on caste lines, said another source. Under the BJP rule, Thakurs have the say in government and Brahmins are feeling alienated, claimed a Congress leader.
Congress has many Brahmin leaders like Pramod Tiwari, Jitin Prasada and Rajesh Mishra. All the three are former MP's, with Pramod Tiwari leading the pack in terms of electoral success. Before being elected to the Rajya Sabha, Tiwari was MLA from Rampur Khas for a number of terms.
Jitin Prasada, son of former Congress veteran Jitendra Prasada, is a former Union Minister. Rajesh Mishra is giant killer having defeated BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi in the past.
Lallu, who joined UPCC in 2012, is considered to be a close confidante of former Union Minister RPN Singh, who is in-charge of Jharkhand.
Priyanka Gandhi has been deliberating with leaders and workers since the party's debacle in General elections as she is aiming to strengthen the organisation in the state, said a close aide.
A team of secretaries visited each district to find out potential leaders. She has also decided that "she will ensure all district units have representation from each section," said the leader close to the developments.
She has met a number of leaders, some in batches and some individually.