With assembly elections in five states almost over, the Congress is now shifting its focus to Uttar Pradesh. The party is building up momentum in the country’s largest state — which goes to polls in 2012 — with rallies by senior leaders.
After PM Manmohan Singh and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s rally in Bundelkhand April 30 — it was their first joint public meeting in UP — the Congress is holding a rally in Mainpuri.
Mainpuri is pocket borough of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. Chief ministers of Delhi and Haryana Sheila Dikshit and Bhupinder Singh Hooda are expected to address the rally here.
This will be followed by a crucial two-day state convention at Varanasi on May 18 and 19, where the party is going to set the agenda and formally launch the preparations for the 2012 polls. Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Rahul both are expected to address the meet.
After being voted out of power in UP in 1989, the Congress has been struggling hard to regain power during the past two decades.
UP holds the key for the Congress to re-emerge as the single dominant player at the national stage.
During this period, different castes and communities have moved away from the Congress and to woo them back is an important part of Rahul’s Mission UP 2012. As part of that strategy, the party is also looking at alliances with “smaller and like-minded” parties.
“We are not going to forge an alliance with the BJP, BSP and SP for the 2012 polls... We will go for a tie-up with some smaller parties,” said Digvijaya Singh, Congress general secretary and in-charge of party’s UP affairs.
One such party is Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which has a strong presence in western UP. A Congress leader expressed confidence that if his party is able to convince the Jat leader and stitches an alliance with the RLD, they would certainly form the government.
The two parties are currently engaged in seat-sharing talks. On his part, the RLD chief has so far ruled out any plans to merger his party with the Congress. “He is a willy and hard bargainer and won’t budge that easily,” another Congress leader said.