Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday formally kicked off his party’s campaign for the 2012 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh with a vow to take the fight against the Mayawati government from Bhatta-Parsaul to every corner of the state.
“Jo ladai ham ne Bhatta Parsaul se shuru ki aap dekhya ham kya karte hain…usko hum UP ke kone kone tak le jayanege aur is sarkar ko yahan se hatayenge…(The fight we have started from Bhatta- Parsaul…you see what we will do…we will take it to every corner of the state and throw out this government from here),” he said.
Gandhi’s 12-minute speech in Hindi at the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee’s 83rd convention in this temple town, a five-hour drive from state capital Lucknow, saw him declaring an open war against the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) government and UP chief minister Mayawati.
Congress workers and leaders cheered.
Gandhi took on Mayawati on issues such as corruption, the deteriorating law and order situation in the state, lack of development in Bundelkhand, land acquisition for the Agra expressway and farmers’ protests over it, and improper utilisation of central funds.
“There are many issues in UP. I will fight along with you…holding your hands. Our fight is not only to win elections but for the future of the state,” Gandhi said. “We want to change UP…we want to ensure development and this cannot happen without the Congress.”
The Congress is trying hard to regain the ground it had lost in 1989 to other political parties in the country’s most populous and fourth-largest state, which holds the key for the Congress to re-emerge as the single dominant player at the national stage.
Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs — the highest among states —to the 543-member Lok Sabha.
“Our vote bank is the poor people of UP. If we fight for their rights, the Congress will march ahead, otherwise not,” Gandhi said.
The party has already started building up the momentum for next year’s elections with rallies and public meetings.
After Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Gandhi’s first joint rally in UP in Bundelkhand, the party moved to Mainpuri, the pocket borough of Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, and is now planning a public meeting at Mayawati’s village, Badalpur, early next month.