Priyanka’s bid to reclaim Congress’ lost ground in eastern UP
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi has visited eastern UP at least six times since 2019 in her bid to revive the Congress party’s lost ground in the region centered around Varanasi.
Her current run started in March 2019 through a Ganga Yatra undertaken on a boat from Allahabad to Varanasi via Bhadohi and Mirzapur, when she visited many villages en route, culminating in a visit to the Varanasi boatmen at the famous Assi Ghat.
On July 19 the same year, Priyanka landed in Varanasi en route to Umbha village in Sonbhadra district to meet the families of the 10 members of tribal community killed in a firing over a land dispute on July 17, 2019. She was stopped by police and detained at Narayanpur in Mirzapur before being taken to Chunar fort, where she and other Congressmen staged a protest.
A day later, the kin of the victims arrived at the fort to meet Priyanka. She returned later in August to Umbha village and met the families of the 10 tribals.
In January 2020, Priyanka Gandhi visited Varanasi to support activists and some Banaras Hindu University (BHU) students who had been arrested while protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act . “They (protesters) were holding a peaceful agitation,” Priyanka said and accused the Uttar Pradesh government of acting against the Constitution.
In February 2020, she visited Azamgarh and met family members of some jailed anti-CAA protesters, asserting that raising a voice in a democracy was not a crime.
A year later in February 2021, Priyanka returned to Varanasi and offered her obeisance to Sant Ravidas at Seer Govardhan area of the city.
This Sunday, she is again in Varanasi, considered the cultural capital of the country by many and also the heart of eastern UP’s socio-political and cultural activities and the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi .
With Sunday’s rally Priyanka has entered campaign mode for the upcoming assembly elections in 2022.
Political analyst Professor Kaushal Kishore Mishra said, “The Congress is trying to regain its lost mass base in eastern UP and that is why it is holding a rally in Varanasi, the centre of politics of eastern UP for a long time.”
Mishra added that while her persistent efforts to build a connect with the masses here will certainly rejuvenate Congress workers across eastern UP, it will still not be easy for the party to regain its lost support base before the 2022 assembly elections in “absence of committed workers”. He pointed out that long-time Congress loyalist Laliteshpati Tripathi, the great grandson of former UP CM Pandit Kamalapati Tripathi had quit the party and it reflected the challenges that the party was facing while rebuilding.
“The rally will increase the political temperature in the entire region,” Professor Mishra said, and added that the Congress, which had strong support in the region till three decades ago, understood that eastern UP was important.