Senior leaders leaving Congress ahead of UP polls
Many other Congress leaders are said to be weighing their options as political crossovers are common before polls
When Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) vice president and former MLA Gayadeen Anuragi, along with another former party MLA Vinod Chaturvedi, joined the Samajwadi Party here on Friday, he was not the first of the senior leaders of the present UPCC team to do so ahead of the Utttar Presh assembly polls
His move came hours after Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra left Lucknow for New Delhi, winding up her five-day visit to review the party’s poll preparedness.
“I was not satisfied with the functioning of the Congress. My voice was not heard in the Congress,” said Anuragi, who had met Priyanka during her visit to Lucknow. Chaturvedi is also learnt to have met her this week. Besides Anuragi, those who left the Congress to join the SP include Manoj Tiwari, whose family member is chairperson of an urban local body in Mahoba.
Laliteshpati Tripathi, another UPCC vice-president, former MLA and grandson of former chief minister the late Kamlapati Tripathi, had also resigned from the Congress early this month after he attended a meeting with the party general secretary.
If those watching the Congress developments are to be believed, many others are weighing their options and may switch loyalties in the coming weeks. A number of other leaders have already left the party for greener postures.
“Yes, the coming weeks will witness an upward trend in the “aya Ram- gaya Ram” phenomenon. Those who may not get the Congress ticket may also cross over while those who are denied tickets elsewhere may join the Congress,” said a Congress functionary on condition of anonymity.
Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee (UPCC) spokesman Ashok Singh said the Congress is fighting a battle for political ideology and to save the country. Anybody leaving the Congress would not make any impact and the fight will continue, he said.
UPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu said the Congress is going through a phase of struggle and the party leadership is fighting for the cause of people.
Only such leaders who are afraid of fighting under the prevailing scenario are leaving the Congress and the party will continue its fight with the support of its workers, he said.
Professor SK Dwivedi, former head of the department of political science (Lucknow University) commented, “If Priyanka continues to make efforts to strengthen the party organization and develop some local leadership, the party may find itself in better position. Those leaving the Congress may have many factors in mind like the party’s organisation, support base and financial resources. The Congress has financial resources, but there is a problem with its organisational structure. The Congress need not bother about some leaders leaving the party as such a phenomenon is common during any election.”
“We understand the next lot of leaders to leave the Congress may be from western Uttar Pradesh. Senior Congress leader Imran Masood has already given indications that he is not satisfied with the prevailing state of affairs. Masood has pockets of strong support in Saharanpur and at least two Congress MLAs owe their allegiance to him. If Masood leaves the Congress, this will be a big setback,” said another Congress leader. Masood has, however, denied reports and said he was only in favour of an alliance with the Samajwadi Party for the 2022 UP assembly election.
Former Union minister Jitin Prasada, ex-UPCC president Rita Bahuguna Joshi and former minister Jagdambika Pal are among other prominent Congress leaders who have left the party to join the BJP in the last few years. Prasada, who joined the BJP about five months ago, has been recently inducted as a minister of Yogi Adityanath cabinet. Joshi, who was also inducted as a cabinet minister in Yogi Adityanath government after 2017 assembly elections, is now a BJP MP as is Pal.