Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra will be the "face of the party" in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, UP Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu said on Sunday.
He also made it clear that the Congress will not enter into a tie-up with any political party, but will forge an alliance with the "public, democracy, youth, farmers, poor, Dalits, oppressed and deprived people".
"UP is her land. She (Priyanka Gandhi) hails from this place. She and her family have an affection for the soil of UP, and for the crores of people of UP. She resides in the heart of crores of people of the state. And undoubtedly under her leadership, the party will contest the UP Assembly elections," he told PTI in an interview.
Priyanka Gandhi will be the face of our party. The party will become the voice of the people and they will shower their blessings on us, he said.
The UP Congress chief asserted that the public sentiment of UP is that "we should form the government under her 'dekh-rekh' (monitoring)".
To a question on forging any pre-poll or post-poll alliance during polls, Lallu said, "Congress will not enter into an alliance with any political party in UP. We will forge an alliance with the public, democracy, youth, farmers, poor, Dalits, oppressed and deprived people."
On some BJP leaders dubbing Priyanka Gandhi as a Twitter leader, Lallu said, "This (UP) government is afraid of Priyanka Gandhi. She took to the streets, and fought for tribals of Sonbhadra despite being detained by the state government. The way she is cornering the government on almost every issue, it seems it is feeling afraid (sarkaar darri hui hai) and entangled (phansi hui hai). Hence, it is speaking in this manner."
When asked as to whether the Congress is lagging behind as far as preparations for the 2022 UP polls are concerned, the UP Congress chief said, "The Congress is continuously raising issues, which directly and indirectly impact the public of the state. We are consistently strengthening our voice. The Congress is becoming the voice of the people on various issues, even as the state government is engaging itself in anti-people activities."
He also claimed that since 1989, the time from which the Congress has been out of power in UP, the development of the state has significantly declined.
"You can see for yourself the condition in which the SP, BSP and BJP have ruled this state. In the past (during the Congress rule), UP was known by its industries, small-scale industries and sugar mills. Today, on the contrary, a large number of sugar mills are lying closed.
"The traditional industries associated with a particular district are also in a bad condition, be it the glass bangles of Firozabad, locks of Aligarh, leather of Kanpur, brass of Moradabad or carpets of Bhadohi. The condition of weavers in the state is very bad," Lallu said.
He claimed that hospitals and medical colleges built during the Congress rule in the state are proving their utility in the current time.
"If voted to power, the Congress will strive to make a developed UP and a prosperous UP (vikasit UP, samriddh UP). This is what we are telling the people of the state," Lallu said, and added that farmers are forced to commit suicide in the state.
When asked to comment on the UP Government's One District, One Product programme, the UP Congress chief said, "ODOP is an eyewash. The UP Government is organising investors summits, but not even a single project has been implemented on the ground".
To a question as to whether there is any leadership vacuum in the UP Congress or shortage of workers, Lallu said, "Congress workers have hit the street on a number of issues which affect the public including the hike in the prices of petrol and diesel".
"Cases were registered against more than 100 party leaders in every district of the state. We were caned, and picked up by the police. The Congress is now becoming the voice of the Dalits, backwards, deprived and oppressed sections of the society," the UP Congress chief said.