Congress launches UP poll campaign, flags off three-day bus yatra

Twenty-seven yatras in 45 days, a roadshow by Congress president Sonia Gandhi in Varanasi and a workers’ meeting attended by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi — the Congress is planning an elaborate launch of its campaign for the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh next year.

The first of the yatras would be flagged off from Congress headquarters Saturday by Sonia and Rahul.

On board the bus, which would crisscross several districts to reach Kanpur after three days, would be the party’s chief minister candidate Sheila Dikshit, AICC general secretary in-charge Ghulam Nabi Azad, state Congress chief Raj Babbar and chief of campaign committee Sanjay Sinh.

To send a message of unity, all senior party leaders from Uttar Pradesh, including Salman Khurshid, Jitin Prasada, Pramod Tiwari, P L Punia, Pradeep Mathur, Sriprakash Jaiswal, Rita Bahuguna Joshi, Nirmal Khatri, R P N Singh and Rajiv Shukla have been asked to board the bus. The theme of the bus yatra would be ‘27 saal, UP behaal’ (27 years, UP in a shambles).

On August 2, Sonia would undertake a roadshow in Varanasi — the constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Congress leaders are now busy finalising the route to be taken by the Congress president.

Party leaders said they would target the development claims of the Prime Minister.

This apart, Congress would target SP, BSP and BJP under the “27 saal UP behaal” slogan.

Congress MLA from Varanasi Ajay Rai said: “Since the month of Sawan has started, Varanasi is visited by a large number of Kanwariyas. We would plan our route such that it does not affect the pilgrims.”

Currently, the party is busy planning a meeting in Lucknow on July 29, where Rahul would address party workers. The meeting would take place at Rama Bai Rally ground. Sources said Rahul’s meeting would, in effect, be the official launch of the poll campaign.

Sources said that in order to make the rally successful, each aspirant of poll ticket has been asked to bring at least 20 booth-level workers along.

“Rahul Gandhi would be there to address the workers and interact with them. The samvad programme would start at 12 pm and continue till 5 pm,” said Satyadev Tripathi, chairman of the Congress communication department in the state.

Asked if Priyanka Gandhi would attend the meeting, he said, “Her presence is not yet confirmed.”

Meanwhile, senior party leaders belonging to upper castes are pitching for inclusion of a promise of reservation for financially backward upper castes in the party manifesto. Although legally unsustainable, party leaders feel this will draw upper caste votes.

By William Regal

Used to think I was a tad indecisive, but now I’m not quite sure.

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