In Western Uttar Pradesh, Congress posters have Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as the big face with a slogan “Congress is the only alternative in the state.” This is a clear message from the party that it will fight the UP elections with Priyanka as the face and will project itself as the main Opposition party and challenger to the BJP, though the party may be seen as weak on the ground. Party cadres have been pressing for Priyanka to be officially declared as the “CM Face” but the party has so far desisted from doing so. Priyanka is presently in the state on a 5-day tour.
The posters that News18 spotted in Western UP on Tuesday say ‘Parivartan Ka Sankalp, Congress hi Vikalp’ (Resolve for Change, Congress is the only Alternative) and have been put up by the state Congress committee. Ajay Kumar Lallu, the state Congress chief told News18, “Priyanka Ji is the general secretary in charge of the party in UP and the election will be fought under her guidance and supervision. We are the only alternative to BJP in UP as it is only Congress which has protested on streets for public issues and not the Samajwadi Party or the BSP.”
Other campaign material being readied by Congress for the state is also focussed on Priyanka’s face with slogans like “UP Mein Aa Rahi Hai Congress”. The posters that News18 spotted in Western UP have only small pictures of leaders like Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi.
“Our leader Priyanka Gandhiji is the only leader who has been raising voice for the people of the state honestly. Right from raising issues during corona period to helping people in need, Priyanka Gandhi ji has always led from the front. The Congress is in a direct fight with the BJP in the state and people have also realised this now. There is not much difference between BJP, SP and BSP as they are busy doing politics of religion and caste. It is only the Congress party which is talking about the development of UP,” state Congress spokesman Anshu Awasthi said.
Kerala Model in UP
The Congress is also planning to implement the ‘Kerala Model’ in UP by giving preference to the youth in ticket distribution. Sources in the party have confirmed that youth will be the definite focus but one should wait and watch to what extent the party adopts the Kerala Model in UP.
The Congress party had preferred youth in Kerala Assembly elections held earlier in 2021 and nearly 50 per cent of the candidates were below the age of 50 years. In Uttar Pradesh too, the party is now aiming to give tickets within the age group of 30 to 50 years in an attempt to mobilise youth ahead of the crucial elections. The AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi will also be taking on a state-wide Pratigya Yatra soon. The party is however busy with its training camps for workers across districts in the state.
Congress spokesperson Anshu Awasthi said, “First we started district wise training camps, then assembly seat wise and now we have started block level training. The Congress workers and post holders are being trained on five points majorly. Firstly they are being told about the golden history of the Congress party and freedom movement, then the contribution of Congress in nation-building post Independence. They are also being told about the achievements of the party right from building institutions, dams, development projects, etc. They are also being told about the anti-people thinking of BJP and RSS and how they remained absent from the freedom movement of India. How the RSS didn’t hoist Indian Tri-Colour from 1947 to 2002 and how they used to work as spies for the British.”
Experts however feel the Kerala Model in UP will not come to rescue the Congress party in the 2022 UP Assembly Polls as the party has failed to give a direct message to any specific section of the society while scrambling for votes. Speaking to News18, veteran journalist and political commentator Parvez Ahmad said, “Adopting Kerala Model in UP will not be fruitful for Congress as UP is well known for its caste-based politics, unlike Kerala, hence giving tickets to youth will not matter much here. They might have NSUI and Youth Congress but apart from that they don’t have any other youth frontal organisation which is active on the ground. Merely giving tickets to the youth won’t get them desired results. Except for the name of Srinivas BV there is no other youth leader which has been in the spotlight since the corona times.”