By Pradeep Kapoor
LUCKNOW: With the installation of Ajay Rai as Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee President, The Congress party high command wants to bring back party in fighting mode to take on BJP in the Lok Sabha elections in 2024. Considered to be an aggressive politician, Ajay Rai can help in the revival of fortunes of Congress which is out of power in UP since 1989.
With the appointment of Ajay Rai, the Congress hopes to bring back bhumihar and brahmins in eastern UP back to Congress. Ajay Rai belongs to bhumihar community which plays very important role in eastern UP politics. It has tremendous influence in districts bordering UP-Bihar.
Ajay Rai was Congress candidate against PM Narendra Modi in Varanasi in 2014 and 2019. He had been earlier thrice MLA on BJP ticket before moving to Samajwadi Party and in 2012 he joined Congress. Congress Party high command is expecting mobilisation of muslims and dalits alongwith Brahmins and bhumihars once the second phase of B harat Jodo Yatra takes place in major parts of UP.
It would be worth mentioning that Congress ruled UP for several decades due to combined support from brahmins, harijans and Muslims. The mishandling of Ayodhya issue by Congress leaders at that time led to shifting of Muslims to Samajwadi Party and brahmins to BJP while Harijans had already shifted to BSP.
Ever since Mrs Priyanka Gandhi Vadhra became AICC general secretary UP Incharge she brought Ajay Kumar Lalloo as UPCC president followed by Brijlal Khabri former MP from BSP and now Ajay Rai has been brought who too had been with BJP and Samajwadi Party.
Congress experimented with a dalit UPCC president with Brijlal Khabri and zonal Presidents belonging to different castes failed at ground level. There was no growth in the organization. So much so Congress had worst performance in 2022 assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh.
As of now, Congress leaders are not very confident where party would be to retain Rae Bareli Lok Sabha seat won by Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Rahul Gandhi already lost his Amethi seat to Mrs Smriti Irani. Ajay Rai is aware of the ground situation of the poor party organisation before 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
But in order to infuse confidence in party leaders and workers and send the message to other parties, Ajay Rai said that Rahul Gandhi will contest from Amethi and invite Priyanka Gandhi to fight from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat which is being represented by PM Narendra Modi . Although Congress, Samajwadi Party and RLD are part of opposition alliance INDIA but seat sharing would be very difficult.
It can be mentioned here that RLD has already staked claim for eight seats out of total of 80 seats from UP in Lok Sabha and Samajwadi Party and Congress are yet to start any discussions on seat sharing. As a part of INDIA alliance, SP has the main task in working out the seat sharing arrangement under the leadership of the SP president Akhilesh Yadav. Earlier Congress have the impression that the Party will start seat sharing talks only after the second Bharat Jodo Yatra. Now it will be watched whether the new PCC president takes up the seat sharing issue with Akhilesh Yadav before the third meeting of opposition alliance in Mumbai on August 31 and September 1. (IPA Service)