Lucknow: Every political party that wants to make an impact in Parliament makes sure it has a presence in Uttar Pradesh that sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.
The Bharat Jodo Yatra of the Congress, led by Rahul Gandhi, interestingly, almost completely ignores Uttar Pradesh.
The yatra will make a brief stopover in Bulandshahr in early January for three days before moving out. Of the total 3750 kilometres yatra, UP will get only about 105 kilometres and Rahul Gandhi will touch just one of the 75 districts in the state.
The Congress has already touched its nadir in the 2022 assembly elections with just a 2.3 per cent vote share and two seats in the state assembly.
The party has just one Lok Sabha seat from UP – Rae Bareli.
With this performance — that too, when the party campaign was being led by Priyanka Gandhi Vadra — one expected the Congress to put in renewed efforts to regain lost ground in the next general elections.
“The message is clear — the wedge between ‘Rahul Congress and Priyanka Congress’ in UP has widened beyond repair. Apparently, Rahul does not wish to interfere in his sister’s domain and has, therefore, kept UP almost out of his itinerary. How else does one explain that the yatra was in Kerala for almost 18 days and will be in UP for barely three and a half days,” said a veteran Congress leader who did not wish to be named.
Another senior leader said that the yatra route was decided by Rahul’s team and senior leaders from UP were not consulted and many were not even informed.
“This is the new Congress where decisions are taken by a core group and senior leaders are left out. Even the list of party leaders who will accompany Rahul Gandhi in the UP phase, does not include any former UPCC president. What can we do except watch helplessly?” he asked.
There is also resentment in the party cadres over the selection of ‘padyatris’ who will accompany Rahul Gandhi, which excludes many dedicated party men.
Congress spokesperson Surendra Rajput, however, demolished all such allegations and said, “If you look at the yatra route, it is a straight line from Kanyakumari to Kashmir. If the yatra was made to tour UP extensively, it would have taken much more time. There is no question of ignoring UP. The yatra is not extensively touring states like Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh where elections are round the corner. The yatra is not focusing on elections, it has a larger purpose.”
Zeeshan Haidar, a former Congress leader who recently quit the party, said, “The Congress managers have chosen states where the party has a presence and have shrewdly avoided states where the party is in poor shape. Actually, the yatra should have focused on states where the Congress is weak so that the cadres could be mobilised.”
Besides, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is in charge of UP, has not made any efforts to create a buzz about the yatra. In fact, she has visited UP only once, and that too for a few hours, after the Congress debacle in the assembly elections in March this year.