In a bid to galvanise the Congress in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the Assembly elections early next year, Rahul Gandhi on Thursday asked the youth to revive the party and in the process rid the state of Mayawati’s “misrule”.

On a two-day visit to the state, where Congress is trying to regain its lost moorings, Mr. Gandhi said the youth leaders must expose the “anti-people and anti-farmer policies” of the BSP government.

“The youth should fan out among the masses and propagate the Centre’s people-oriented policies and programmes, and at the same time take the opportunity to apprise voters of the anti-people and anti-farmer policies of the state government,” he said.

He was addressing the party’s youth brigade at Syed Modi stadium here.

“Work at grassroot level and be sensitive towards the problems of common man,” was Mr. Gandhi’s refrain during his interaction with the Youth Congress workers.

Senior Congress leaders including PCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Youth Congress office bearers and leaders from seven districts of Gorakhpur and Basti divisions in eastern UP were present.

After his Kisan Sandesh Yatra in western U.P. earlier this month where he undertook foot march from villages in Gautam Buddha Nagar to Aligarh, this is his second mass contact programme in the state.

Mr. Gandhi faces a tough challenge in Uttar Pradesh, where he succeeded in reviving the Congress by ensuring its victory in 22 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in 2009.

Seeking to establish direct contact with people in the countryside, Mr. Gandhi stopped at a roadside kiosk near Dhuriyapar sugar mill to have snacks on his way to Mau.

“It was a pleasant surprise,” shopkeeper Ramdin Gupta said, adding, the Congress leader enjoyed “pakauras and namkeen” (deep-fried snacks).

During his brief stopover, the Congress leader also interacted with villagers and heard their woes relating to water, power and road connectivity.

Mr. Gandhi also undertook a boat ride to reach Kataka village in Piprauli block to hold a ‘chaupal’ (villagers’ meeting).

In Santkabirnagar district, he paid obeisance at the samadhi of poet Kabirdas.

In Mau district, he addressed a meeting of youths as part of his Congress membership drive.

He said youths should come forward in a big way to make people aware of the welfare schemes initiated by the UPA government at the Centre for the benefit of the rural poor.

On the second day of his stay in the state, Mr. Gandhi will undertake a similar exercise of widening the party’s base among youths by holding meetings at Varanasi and Ballia.

In course of his visit, Gandhi will also interact with potential candidates for the upcoming Assembly polls.

Elections for 403 Assembly seats in UP are to be held in early 2012.