LUCKNOW: Will Jyotiraditya Scindia's entry into the BJP have a ripple effect in Uttar Pradesh? At least that's what the buzz is. Senior local leaders like PL Punia say it's imperative for the party to introspect. The focus is now on the prevailing scenario in the grand old party in India's most politically crucial state.
Senior Congress leaders believe that it was not only Scindia who should be held responsible for his decision to join the saffron brigade. “After a prolonged 15-year BJP rule, the Congress rode to power in Madhya Pradesh but failed to keep the flock intact and the party lost a prominent face as Scindia. It is unfortunate,” said Punia.
Agreeing with Punia, another senior leader of the UP Congress who did not want to be named said the scenario was not positive for the party. Most of the senior leaders who have devoted their entire political career to the grand old party were feeling the same way, he said.
A close confidant of the Gandhi family and a college mate of Rahul Gandhi, Scindia left Congress on March 9 and joined the BJP on March 11. Congress interim president Sonia Gandhi expelled him on March 10 for indulging in anti-party activities.
Notably, last year on January 23, when AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi had taken the political plunge just ahead of Lok Sabha elections and was made in-charge of eastern UP, Scindia was also appointed party general secretary along with her and given the charge of western UP districts. Both were mandated to ensure the party’s revival in Uttar Pradesh.
Taking a cue from the events of neighbouring Madhya Pradesh, many in the UP Congress believe that the party should take a lesson or two from Scindia’s rebellion.
UPCC chief Ajai Kumar Lallu felt that Scindia’s exit won’t have much impact on UP, especially the western belt, the responsibility of which was entrusted to him as he was a reluctant in-charge since the beginning.
However, some senior leaders in the state unit of Congress are feeling left out by the current leadership. They had even aired their resentment over the state of affairs after Priyanka had reconstituted the UPCC handing over its reins to Lallu.
“Rather than reassuring the seniors in the party and lending a patient ear to their grievances, the state leadership arbitrarily acted against them to muzzle their voice. It is time to mend the ways in UP also, otherwise, things would go out of hand,” said a senior Congress leader. Many others also have similar observations though they refused to go on record.
Currently, the Congress has seven MLAs in the UP Assembly of which two -- Aditi Singh and Rakesh Pratap Singh -- are supposedly close to the BJP. Ironically, both the legislators come from Rae Bareli, the Gandhi bastion. The party’s disqualification plea against defiant Aditi Singh is already pending with the speaker.
Following reconstitution of UPCC in November last year, the state unit of Congress witnessed a rebellion of sorts as the senior chunk of party leaders aired their dissent openly.
A week after they convened a meeting to decide over holding a separate ‘get-together’ to celebrate the birth anniversary of India’s first Prime Minister late Jawahar Lal Nehru on November 14, the disciplinary cell of UPCC served notice on 11 senior leaders for ‘indulging in anti-party activities.’ Later 10 of them were expelled from the party by UPCC chief.
“Anybody raising his voice against any wrongdoing in the party faces action,” said UPCC minority department former chief Siraj Mehandi.