UP Assembly Polls: With Next-Gen Leaders Leaving The Party, Congress Struggles To Regain Lost Ground

by PTI - Jan 27, 2022 04:03 PM +05:30 IST
UP Assembly Polls: With Next-Gen Leaders Leaving The Party, Congress Struggles To Regain Lost GroundUP elections

Lucknow, Jan 27 (PTI) Synonymous with the Congress in Uttar Pradesh for decades, several families are now losing their new generation to rival organisations, making it even more difficult for the party to regain lost ground in the crucial state.

These are the families of stalwarts like Kamlapati Tripathi (Varanasi), Noor Bano (Rampur), Jitendra Prasad (Shahjahanpur) and Kunwar C P N Singh (Kushinagar), who were largely unwavering in their loyalty to the Congress.

But their new generation has been looking elsewhere. From these families, Laliteshwar Tripathi, Haider Ali Khan, Jitin Prasada and RPN Singh have switched sides, leaving the already weakened Congress to promote their own political careers.

While Jitin Prasada and R P N Singh went to the BJP, Haider Ali Khan is now the Apna Dal (S) nominee from Suar seat in Rampur and Laliteshwar Tripathi has joined Mamata Banerjee's Trinamool Congress.

There is speculation that Laliteshwar Tripathi might be picked as an assembly poll candidate by Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav as Banerjee has already announced that her TMC would not contest in UP. Instead, it will support the SP.

While the rivals mock the grand old party over its leaders abandoning a “sinking ship', the party has put on a brave face.

'Primarily, the importance of these leaders was because of the Congress and not the other way round. There could be some impact because of their influential family backgrounds, but it cannot be taken as a setback,' Congress spokesperson P L Punia told PTI.

On the R P N Singh case, Punia said he got whatever the party could offer him when in power, and was later made in-charge of Jharkhand. He got a spot on the decision-making Congress Working Committee and was also named one of the star campaigners for UP.

'What more importance can be given to any leader?' Punia said.

Laliteshwar Tripathi’s great-grandfather Kamlapati Tripathi had been the chief minister of the state and the railway minister.

Noor Bano family scion Haider Ali Khan's departure was dramatic. He rejected the Congress ticket after it was already announced and crossed over to Apna Dal (S), a BJP ally. He will contest from Suar in Rampur, considered the stronghold of jailed SP MP Azam Khan.

Khan, a 32-year old graduate from a British university, is the son of Nawab Kazim Ali Khan, also known as Naved Mian, who had stints with other political parties but returned to the parent Congress in 2019.

Former minister and popular Congress leader Jitin Prasada's father Jitendra Prasada was a party vice-president. His grandfather Jyoti Prasad too was a party member.

Jitendra Prasada was also the political advisor to two prime ministers, Rajiv Gandhi in 1991 and P V Narasimha Rao in 1994, and fought the Congress presidential election against Sonia Gandhi in 2000.

The exit of these prominent leaders, and others just ahead of the assembly polls, has made general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s attempt to improve the party's Vidhan Sabha tally in 2022 a difficult task.

The Congress, which had an alliance with the SP in 2017, won a paltry seven seats then. Out of these, two MLAs from Sonia Gandhi's Rae Bareli parliamentary constituency have crossed over to the saffron camp.

Congress spokesperson Supriya Shrinate has described such moves as “cowardice”.

“They seem to have left the party for their selfish motives, thinking they will get something either in the state or at the Centre since the BJP is presently in power,” Punia added.

Congress spokesperson Anshu Awasthi said the party under Priyanka Gandhi’s leadership is making a conscious effort to shun 'old baggage' and present itself in a 'new avatar' in Uttar Pradesh.

Out of 166 candidates declared so far by the Congress in UP, 119 are making their electoral debut, he said.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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