In an attempt to counter Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi’s man Amit Shah in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has appointed its general secretary Madhusudan Devram Mistry, a leader from the western state, as incharge of the party affairs in UP. He has replaced long-time UP incharge and general secretary Digvijay Singh under whom the party had won 21 Lok Sabha seats in 2009 but fared dismally in the 2012 assembly election (Its vote share came down from 18.25% in 2009 to 11.63% in 2012).
Mistry, 68, belonging to the backward class community, is also a member of the election coordination committee headed by All India Congress Committee ( AICC) vice-president Rahul Gandhi. The low-profile leader was instrumental in the party’s victory in the Karnataka election last month and played a significant role in the Congress-led front’s win in the Kerala assembly election in 2011 also. Apart from Karnataka, Mistry was also in-charge of Kerala and Lakshwadeep.He had lost the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Sabarkantha in north Gujarat.
Shankarsinh Vaghela had introduced him to politics and he joined the Congress, along with him, in the mid-1990s. Simple and suave, Mistry has been known in the party circles for his good organisational ability. Before plunging into politics, Mistry worked for the tribals of Sabarkantha for nearly three decades through his two NGOs that were set up in 1985.
Hailing the appointment, state Congress chief Nirmal Khatri said under Mistry’s guidance, the party would face challenges and be able to achieve its target in the 2014 parliamentary election.
Party sources said factionalism had assumed serious dimensions during the last few years and Mistry would be facing a daunting task. However, a senior party leader felt that since he was from Gujarat, Mistry would be able to effectively counter Shah, Former UPCC chief Rita Bahuguna Joshi said Mistry was a very senior leader and had worked at the grassroots level to boost the party. Pointing out that Mistry was a very capable leader, Joshi said he was good replacement for Digvijay Singh.