A ‘GRAND’ display of fireworks was witnessed at the first meeting of the newly constituted Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee’s (UPCC) that coined a new slogan of ‘now or never’ asking Congressmen to tighten seatbelts for elections to urban local bodies and the Vidhan Sabha in Uttar Pradesh.
Charges and counter charges flew as differences among various party factions came to the fore. There was also a realisation that it was high time that all factions joined hands to bring back the party’s lost glory. So was the concern about Congress’ preparedness for the coming elections.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s call for ‘jail bharo’ too came up for discussion. An announcement about dates for ‘jail bharo’ was deferred due to the festive season. Her announcement for a major role to Rahul Gandhi in UP polls however had the desired impact with all partymen welcoming the move.
As Sonia’s successful rallies have created an impression that people were looking towards the Congress, the fireworks looked more sparkling.
“Target Mulayam Government and not me,” said former UPCC president Jagdambika Pal adding that the candidate who got merely 2200 votes against him had been appointed an office-bearer.
The Congress president had launched an offensive against the Mulayam Government, said Pal adding the UPCC’s silence at this juncture was deafening.
“This has led to an impression that Sonia Gandhi is left alone,” he said. Despite being unwell former PM VP Singh could fight the State Government, then the Congress should not shy away, he said.
Significantly, Pal was not the only one to vent ire at the meeting. Others could be seen objecting to the special treatment meted out to high profile party leaders. A piquant situation prevailed at the venue when Union Minister of State for Steel Dr Akhilesh Das entered UPCC premises along with his band of supporters.
As Das’ supporters shouted “Sonia Gandhi zindabad” and “Akhilesh Das zindabad”, those sitting on the dais could be seen disapproving the act.
“This is UPCC executive committee meeting. They are not invited,” said a senior party leader. This probably upset the minister who was about to leave. UPCC president Salman Khurshid, however, asked him not leave as Das was among the special invitees.
Speaking at the meeting Das later said there had been allegations that he always fielded his stooges at the various posts of Lucknow Nagar Nigam. “Give party ticket to a winning candidate. I will support,” said Das. “The UPCC gates have been opened to allow free entry to those reaching in air-conditioned vehicles while others were being stopped at the main gate,” pointed out some other Congressmen. Many pointed out towards the manner in which some Congress leaders were functioning in districts. “They believed more in whipping out revolvers instead of donning a Gandhi cap,” said another party leader.
UPCC vice-president Maharani Dohre had her own problem. “Don’t include eunuchs in the women quota,” she said adding the Congress may, however, constitute a special cell for eunuchs. Dohre also took a dig at many UPCC office-bearers who stayed away the party headquarters. “Ask them to be there at least for thrice a week,” she said. She also flayed Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav for distributing Kanya Vidyadhan.