Some say it is closed for “renovation” while others hint that the party is over—for the time being, at least.
The Congress in Uttar Pradesh has gone into hibernation after its debacle in the recent Assembly elections. Party leaders are nowhere to be seen, party workers are on an unannounced holiday and the party’s state headquarters wears a barren look.
UPCC president Raj Babbar has not visited the UPCC headquarters after owning moral responsibility for the party’s rout and offering to resign. No one in the Congress knows whether he is still the state chief or not.
AICC leaders have also not looked back at the UP Congress after the elections.
“The party is in a freeze frame mode. The party workers are also in a wait-and-watch mode,” said a party spokesman.
Congress leaders in UP blame the party’s poor showing in the Assembly polls on the alliance with the Samajwadi Party and hold political strategist Prashant Kishor responsible for it.
“We have paid the price for the anti-incumbency of the Akhilesh Yadav government. We would have fared better had we continued with our ‘27 Saal, UP behaal’ campaign,” said a former MLA.
Party leaders also feel that the Congress high command did not bother about taking feedback from the workers before forging the alliance.
Interestingly, it was the Congress MLAs in the 16th UP Legislative Assembly who had favored the alliance with SP, since they felt it would bolster their hopes of getting re-elected. Only two of the 29 Congress MLAs in the 2012 Assembly retained their seats in 2017.
Congress leaders in UP are now waiting for the party high command to decide on the Lok Sabha elections.
“We are waiting for Rahul Gandhi to tell us whether the party should prepare for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections or depend on the alliance with Samajwadi Party,” said a senior leader who wants to contest the Lok Sabha elections from Bundelkhand.
A number of leaders admitted, albeit on the condition of anonymity, that they would wait for another month and if the Congress opted for an alliance, they would seek greener pastures.
Congress leaders are also wary of any talks of a grand alliance that is being promoted by political strategist Prashant Kishor. Sources claim that Kishor has convinced the Congress and SP to forge an alliance with the BSP for the Lok Sabha elections.
“If that happens, the Congress may not get more than 5-10 seats to contest in the Lok Sabha polls, including Rae Bareli and Amethi,” said a former UPCC president. A spokesman of the party said, “I have stopped participating in TV debates because I do not know the party line on our relationship with the SP. The Congress lauded the loan waiver for farmers in UP but SP criticised it. The central leadership has almost abandoned the UP Congress.”
A veteran leader added: “The BJP is already working on its roadmap for 2019 and we are wasting time. We should identify seats and finalise candidates if we want to improve on our tally in Uttar Pradesh.”