Party to focus on UP, other polls; Priyanka Vadra will prepare UP poll strategy.
New Delhi: Despite being under pressure resulting from several electoral defeats in the past, the Congress high command is, as of now, in no mood to interfere in organizational matters in different states. The leadership has given a free hand to chief ministers of Congress-ruled states such as Rajasthan, Punjab and Chhattisgarh.
With preparation for upcoming Assembly polls as top priority, the party high command will put in place a comprehensive electoral strategy in July and August once the corona pandemic subsides. However, there are indications that the high command will not make any change in the organisation in Uttar Pradesh, while another poll-bound state Uttarakhand may see some changes. PCC chief of Uttarakhand Pritam Singh may be replaced. A big faction of Congress wants Harish Rawat to be given the top party post in the hill state. But Rawat has had a setback in the bypoll recently. The high command may find a middle path given the possibility of a split in Congress in Uttarakhand.
Perturbed over electoral loss in five states recently, the Congress high command is now concerned about how to win the upcoming polls. States such as UP, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Goa and Manipur will go to polls in February-March next year. Barring Punjab, Congress has a direct fight with BJP in other four states. What is bothering the party is that it is not in a good shape in these four states.
What is troubling the high command most is UP. AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is looking after the party affairs in the biggest state of Hindi heartland. UP is the first state where Congress has put in place organizational teams from state to block levels, whereas there are no committees in existence in several states.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra undeniably tried to do so many experiments to revive Congress in UP, but to no avail. Observers believe that there is no influential face left in Congress which is due to the party being out of power for three decades. The Gandhi family has also no impact in the state, particularly among the new generation. Leaders like Raj Babbar are in the group of dissenters. However, this group does not seem to be in the mood to do anything substantial as of now. Silence of dissenters on postponement of presidential polls of Congress has dropped ample hints about the same. They will remain silent at least till UP polls, keeping an eye on organizational changes in future. President and Vice President elections will take place after UP polls. UP results will give enough hints about the political course in Presidential elections. The Congress leadership believes that the upcoming polls will determine the political direction in future, which is why UP polls assume much greater significance. Taking it as a challenge, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has made up her mind to join the battlefield on the basis of her teams in UP. But five state results have given a jolt to the party and leaders. Congress is in a dilemma in UP. If it goes it alone there, it may be staring at a big defeat. If it gives a walk-over like Bengal, then it will face political crisis. There will be questions galore over the competence of Priyanka Vadra who has taken full control of the party in UP.
The leadership will be questioned if Congress fights elections in a friendly understanding with SP. Some leaders have started demanding a change of leadership in UP, but UPPCC president Ajay Kumar Lallu will not be changed. It is said that Priyanka will personally look after every single seat with the help of several leaders including dissenters. Congress does not have any factionalism ever since Priyanka Vadra has taken over the charge there. But other states are facing groupism.
Congress is divided in Uttarakhand, Manipur and Goa. Former Uttarakhand CM Harish Rawat wants to be announced as CM face in the state. He has reiterated his loyalty to the Gandhi family several times. Rawat is getting along well with the present Congress leadership in the state. Ranjeet Singh Rawat, who was once close to Harish Rawat, has revolted against him. Congress lost Salt bypoll due to this only. Therefore, it won’t be easy for the high command to give top responsibility to Harish Rawat.
After getting a free hand from high command, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has to lead the Congress in polls on his own. The high command is turning a deaf ear to warnings of former Punjab Congress chief Pratap Singh Bajwa and Navjot Singh Siddhu. That no pressure politics will be accepted is the clear message from the high command. Both Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are against such pressure politics.
This is the reason why the high command is not paying any attention to the Congress leaders who are creating pressure against the party government in Rajasthan. A year ago, an inside political group had tried to destabilize the Gehlot government. But the high command had given a free hand to Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot then.
After the corona crisis subsides, Chief Minister Gehlot will make changes in his team and complete the remaining political appointments.
The Congress high command is keeping a close eye on the party’s matters of Rajasthan as it is the only big state in its kitty. Factionalism against Chhattisgarh CM Bhupesh Baghel seems to be under control these days.