LUCKNOW: Will Priyanka Gandhi Vadra be projected as the UP CM candidate in the 2022 polls?
The Congress remains tight-lipped, but she does not rule out the possibility.
“It is too early to give any such projection. Let the appropriate time come,” said Priyanka Gandhi when a group of media persons spoke with the party general secretary in mid-July in Lucknow.
The onus of rejuvenating the party ever since she entered active politics in 2019 in the country’s biggest and politically most crucial state has rested with Priyanka.
She was on a three-day trip to the state last month — her first in a year and a half.
Her mission was to put the party’s house in order.
She met a few senior and veteran Congress leaders and repeatedly urged them to bring the party’s new-gen leaders and the old guard on the same page.
“Her visit was primarily meant to pep up the party workers,” said a senior party leader.
“Her long absence has an adverse impact on the party as local leaders get the time to try and settle their personal scores,” said the Congress leader.
State Congress chief Ajai Kumar Lallu concedes that the party is facing many challenges.
“Reviving the organisation at the grassroots, making the party leaders at the district level realise their importance and increasing the party’s visibility in UP’s political arena are a few tough challenges,” he says.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, she had to look after the poll management of her mother Sonia Gandhi in Rae Bareli and Rahul Gandhi in Amethi besides overseeing the party throughout the state.
The result was disappointing: the Congress lost its bastion of Amethi and won just one seat of Rae Bareli.
So, the year 2022 assumes significance for her. The period from now on would test her organisational skills and poll management as the party would need her popularity to take on the saffron juggernaut.
The Congress is at its lowest ebb in the state Assembly with just seven MLAs of whom two are rebels.
“Over the last three decades, the party has lost its sheen in UP; its organisation has touched the nadir. Priyanka has the paramount duty to regain that ground. Whether she will be able to do it is a moot question,” says Prof AK Mishra, a political observer Priyanka was appointed the party general secretary in 2019.
The party had a 500-member state executive committee. She pruned it to 115. Ajai Kumar Lallu, a leader belonging to the backward class, was made the state unit chief.
Now the UPCC executive has 16 general secretaries and six vice-presidents.
The caste balance was kept in mind while re-constituting it. Of 115 members, 34 per cent belong to upper castes and backwards, 17 per cent are Muslims and 12 per cent SC/ST.
One per cent of the members come from the Sikh community while the rest 2 per cent belong to various other groups.
“Didi has taken feedback about leaders who are recognised at the grassroots level and has appointed them as district chiefs,” says the UPCC chief.
“Veterans are being used in different committees set up at the state level to bring the party into active mode before the polls,” he adds.
However, confusion still prevails over having an alliance.
While senior Congress leaders of the state are against any alliance, Priyanka told them at a meeting last month that options should be left open.
Top party sources say the identification of candidates for the polls has started with around 160-165 names being finalised.