Ahead of the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, the Congress led by General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi, has announced seven committees for the polls, The Indian Express reported on Monday. Notably, some leaders who were signatories to a letter asking for the overhaul of the party have been left out of the committees.
Prominent party leaders from Uttar Pradesh, such as former Union minister Jitin Prasada, ex-UP Congress chief Raj Babbar and AICC Jharkhand in-charge RPN Singh, were excluded from the committees.
Both Prasad and Babbar were among the 23 signatories to a letter to party chief Sonia Gandhi calling for a democratic overhaul of the party to overcome the the Bharatiya Janata Party’s dominance over Indian politics. Singh, on the other hand, had criticised party leader Rahul Gandhi’s approach towards the prime minister at a Congress Working Committee meeting in June, where he suggested that the party should not attack Narendra Modi personally, but target his “policies and wrong decisions”.
Senior Congress leader Salman Khurshid will head a team that will draw up the party’s manifesto for the state. Other members of the manifesto committee are: PL Punia, CLP leader Aradhana Misra Mona, All India Congress Committee Secretary Vivek Bansal, spokesperson Supriya Shrinate and Amitabh Dubey.
Those who denounced the letter, such former state unit chief Nirmal Khatri and party leader Naseeb Pathan, have found places in the panels, according to NDTV. While Khatri was selected for the Training and Cadre Development Committee, Pathan is part of the Programme Implementation Committee.
Besides this, party leader Pramod Tiwari will head the outreach committee and AICC in-charge of Uttarakhand Anugrah Narayan Singh will head the membership panel. Rashid Alvi will head the media panel.
The appointments, which have been made nearly two years before the elections, are being seen as a message from the Congress to show a sense of political purpose and urgency in the key heartland state.
In 2017, the BJP had won a landslide victory in the UP Assembly elections. The Congress won just seven seats despite an alliance with Samajwadi Party and an extensive campaign by Rahul Gandhi. When the saffron party again swept the polls in the 2019 general election, the Congress managed only one seat. Rahul Gandhi, then the party chief, had lost from Gandhi family stronghold Amethi.
The Congress is now looking to revive its political fortunes with Priyanka Gandhi at the helm of affairs, who was appointed the general secretary in charge of Uttar Pradesh months ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election. The party has already started the process of consultations for preparing the manifesto.
The appointments also came on the day when nine expelled Congress leaders have written to party president Sonia Gandhi, asking her to “rise above the affinity for the family” and lead by establishing mutual trust and restoring the constitutional and democratic values.
The letter came days after a similar one written by 23 senior leaders of the party prompted an internal crisis in the Congress. In the first letter – signed by veteran politicians like Shashi Tharoor, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Prithviraj Chavan, Anand Sharma and Kapil Sibal – leaders called for “collective leadership”, which was seen as a direct challenge to Sonia Gandhi’s authority over organisational matters.