By Vivek Tripathi
Lucknow, Sep 25 (IANS) Struggling to survive, the Congress is making structural changes by introducing young blood in the party, instead of relying on ageing members. Of the candidates announced for 10 seats out of the 11 going for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly bypolls, most are between 20-40 years of age and have been selected by Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra herself.
While party candidates, Karisma Thakur from Govind Nagar seat in Kanpur, and Rajmangal Yadav from Ghosi, are less than 30 years of age, Hardeepak Nishad from Hamirpur, Dilpreet Singh from Lucknow Cantt, Tanuj Punia from Jaidpur, Umesh Kumar Diwakar from Iglas, Ranjana Pandey from Manikpur and Neeraj Tripathi from Pratapgarh in their 30s.
Senior political analyst Rajeev Srivastava said Sonia Gandhi maintained good relations with Motilal Vora, Ahmed Patel, P. Chidambaram, Salman Khurshid and Ghulam Nabi Azad — all close aides of her husband Rajeev Gandhi and even gave them preference in deciding party matters. Rahul Gandhi tried to sideline them but failed.
Now with Priyanka managing the party and targeting the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections beyond the bypolls, she is giving preference to young leaders who can put the party above themselves and work as party members, without engaging in party politics.
Congress MLC Deepak Singh said the selection of candidates for the bypolls has been done in consensus with the party’s senior and young leaders from Uttar Pradesh. “People who have worked at the grassroots have been named as candidates from their areas. The experienced ones have been appointed booth coordinators. If this formula is successful, more youth will be introduced at the organisational level too,” said Singh.
However, some senior leaders have questioned the selection of these candidates. A party veteran, on the condition of anonymity, said: “Priyanka should have made an Executive Council in the state, instead of declaring candidates on her own. What will these candidates do without a committee?” he asked.
“Bypolls are an examination of a party’s capabilities. Political parties focus on strengthening their organisation to excel in this examination. You don’t declare candidates for a bypoll before strengthening the organisation under which they will work,” said political analyst Ratanmani Lal.
“Congress has no executive council in Uttar Pradesh. If the candidates have been decided by Priyanka Gandhi and not the organisation, who is going to campaign for them? How will they be motivated? This is fine as an experiment, but there should be an organisation backing them. It hardly matters whether the candidates are new or old,” he added.
Bypolls are to be held in UP’s 12 Assembly seats — Rampur, Gangoh (Saharanpur), Iglas (Aligarh), Lucknow Cantt, Jaidpur (Barabanki), Manikpur (Chitrakoot), Balha (Bahraich), Pratapgarh, Hamirpur, Ghosi (Mau) and Jalalpur (Ambedkar Nagar). Polling dates for all the constituencies have been declared, except Tundla.