Senior leaders like Ajay Rai, P.L. Punia and Virendra Chaudhary have been in the race, but sources suggest Ajay Rai has greater chances of becoming the Pradesh Congress Committee president.
The congress is abuzz with the possibility of a change of president in its Uttar Pradesh cadre and it is believed that such a change will provide a fresh momentum for the party in view of the Lok Sabha polls next year. Sources suggest that the new change will usher in a chief who will cooperate with Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s team (which has been looking after the state) smoothly.
When Brijlal Khabri (current Congress president of Uttar Pradesh cadre) was appointed the president, there were several media reports suggesting that he is a member of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s team. However, later, it emerged that he was directly appointed by Rahul Gandhi and has good relations in Mallikarjun Kharge’s office. Over a period of time, after his appointment (as UP chief), friction starting growing between Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s team and Khabri. It is viewed that Khabri had become rigid and swayed from the instructions of Vadra’s team and started calling the shots on his own. A leader said, “He started disliking the interference from her team which obstructed the organisational process of the party. As the party was looking for its elevation in the state, the friction resulted in losing more ground to a point that the party has to begin from the beginning.”
Party insiders suggest that since Khabri was from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), he had started inducting BSP leaders in his close circle and it was clearly seen that leaders who had come from BSP would be given better positions and preference over Congress leaders who have always been with the party and invested in the party. A party leader said, “They had brought with them the culture of worklessness, since in BSP, everything is Mayawati and there is much adherence to the strict command culture. Khabri may have found himself lost in Congress. He hasn’t been able to deliver. Uttar Pradesh is such a huge state population-wise and it needs an equally capable leader who can think and make amends on his own and stitch up the broken pieces of the party. But unfortunately, he wasn’t the one.”
Moreover, the party wants to play a substantial role in the upcoming general elections and wants to keep smooth alliance with SP and other parties in the state so that lack of cooperation does not emerge between alliance partners. Sources suggest that senior leaders like Ajay Rai, P.L. Punia and Virendra Chaudhary have been in the race, but sources suggest Ajay Rai has greater chances of becoming the chief.
A political analyst in the state said, “Uttar Pradesh needs an experienced and dynamic leader who has vision for the state. Without that, itsy bitsy amendments in the UP cadre can be made by anyone who comes to take the position of party chief. Moreover, the Congress rank and file are split. They have to be brought in together and mobilised to work for the party as one. That motivation has to be instilled and that cannot happen without appointing a responsible and dynamic leader. All others would play out to fill in the gap arrangement.”