Days after the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)ruled out forging any major alliances for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, Congress’ State unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu on July 4 expressed confidence that his party was capable of fighting the elections without aligning with either of them and forming the next government on its own.
He said the Congress would fight the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh next year under Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s “dekh-rekh (supervision)”, and that under her leadership, the party would make a comeback in the State after over three decades.
In an interview with PTI , Mr. Lallu said the Congress had emerged as the main challenger to the “oppressive” U.P. government and claimed that his party, with just five legislators, had proven to be a more effective Opposition than the SP with 49 MLAs in the 403-member Assembly.
Speaking of “winds of change” in the State, he added, “Badlav ki aandhi hai, jiska naam Priyanka Gandhi hai (There is a storm of change and its name is Priyanka Gandhi).”
The U.P. Congress chief said the Congress’ organisation was strengthened at various levels in the State under Priyanka Gandhi’s leadership. He said, with the appointment of zila committees, block presidents, and setting up of nyaya panchayats and gram sabha units, a capable organisation was in place.
“We have 840 block presidents, 8,145 nyay panchayat presidents and in 59,000 villages. We have gram sabha units. We are strengthening booths and training programmes are going on. In light of these developments and on the basis of raising people’s issues, we will definitely make a comeback in UP,” he said.
Chief ministerial face
Asked if Priyanka Gandhi should be made the chief ministerial face by the party, Mr. Lallu said the party’s national leadership would take a call. He said she was the State’s in-charge and the elections would be fought under her supervision.
“The people of Uttar Pradesh are looking at the Congress with hope. There is a lot of enthusiasm among the workers and under her (Priyanka Gandhi) leadership, the Congress government will be formed in U.P.,” he said.
His remarks come at a time when the party has shifted gears for the Assembly elections with the State unit organising zone-wise training camps of block presidents, district presidents and other office bearers to prepare workers for the polls.
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi is likely to visit several districts this month with an aim to enthuse the cadre and prepare the party for a pitched electoral battle with the ruling BJP.
“Whether the party would fight the polls on its own or in alliance with the SP or the BSP, the Congress will forge an alliance with issues of the people, farmers, poor, women and the oppressed,” Mr. Lallu said.
The Congress will go to the people with this alliance and is confident they will bless it, he added.
‘Capacity to fight on its own’
Asked if the Congress has the capacity to fight the polls on its own, Mr. Lallu said, “Yes, definitely it has the capacity to fight.”
His remarks assume significance as they come days after SP chief Akhilesh Yadav said his party will not enter into any alliance with big parties, while BSP supremo Mayawati later asserted that her outfit will not enter into any alliance for the U.P. polls.
On political pundits not considering the Congress the main challenger to the BJP in U.P. and the party’s poor showing in the panchayat polls, he alleged that an “oppressive” BJP government was in power and said, “if any party is raising its voice against the Yogi Adityanath dispensation on the streets, it is the Congress, which has emerged as a strong Opposition”.
“Be it for farmers, youth or poor in rural areas, Congress has raised its voice on issues such as unemployment, law and order situation, saving lives during the COVID-19 pandemic, on deaths due to spurious liquor, jungle raj and other problems,” he said.
“When tribals were killed in Sonbhadra, when injustice was done to Hathras’ daughter and to the daughters of Unnao and Shahjahanpur, Priyanka Gandhi raised her voice. When it came to hitting the streets to oppose the farm laws, it was Priyanka Gandhi who did it,” Mr. Lallu said.
‘SP grabbed headlines’
Talking about the Congress’ performance in the panchayat elections, Mr. Lallu said 271 of the party-backed candidates were elected, 571 came second while 711 were third.
The Congress got 50 lakh votes in Lok Sabha polls and in the Assembly elections, it got 51 lakh votes, but in zila panchayat polls, it got 1,52,00,000 votes, he said, alleging that the SP only “grabbed headlines” by putting their name on winning candidates despite losing out.
“There is frustration and disappointment in the BJP and SP. The Congress, with its determination, is going to make a comeback in U.P. under Priyanka Gandhi’s leadership. We have full faith in the people,” he said, stressing that Congress was the BJP’s main challenger in the polls.