Resentment is rife in the Uttar Pradesh unit of the Congress after notorious leader Imran Masood was appointed the vice president of Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee ahead of the crucial Assembly elections next year. Several sections of the party’s state unit argued that Masood’s appointment would hit the party’s “tolerant and secular” image. However, party sources said that the leadership thought his appointment was necessary at a time when the Congress was striving to create a vote bank of Brahmins, Muslims and non-Dalit OBCs. Imran Masood was appointed as one of the four vice presidents in UP Pradesh Congress Committee. A secretary in the UPCC told this correspondent, “It seems that there are no leaders left in our ranks as we have to now turn to a failed politician with no political acumen. Imran Masood doesn’t hold a favourable image and his appointment may not serve us well. It is possible that it might fetch us Muslim votes, but will it not distance other sections from us?”

The BJP has also questioned the appointment of Masood, calling him a hate-monger. Imran Masood is infamous for his hate speech during the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, when he threatened to “chop Narendra Modi into pieces”.

Masood’s appointment, however, suits the Congress’ apparent poll strategy.  Congress sources in New Delhi said that Raj Babbar was made the UPCC president as he belongs to the Sonar community (goldsmiths), which comes under the Other Backward Classes (OBCs). “We have to tap in the OBC vote. The vote arithmetic is complex in UP. The Congress needs the Brahmins, the Muslims and the OBCs, if not the Dalits, on its side,” the party source said.

The party also appointed Raja Ram Pal, Bhagwati Prasad Chaudhary and Rajesh Mishra as three other state vice presidents.

Imran Masood is a Muslim leader and has apparently been elevated to get the Muslim vote, which is apparently tilting towards the BSP.

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