It has been a month since the Congress appointed its new president for Uttar Pradesh and six zonal chiefs keeping in mind caste and regional equations, but the state unit is still divided over contesting the upcoming by-elections as the new office-bearers are still busy touring the areas allotted to them and building organisational structure.
The bypolls for the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat and the assembly constituencies of Rampur and Khatauli will be held on December 5.
While a section feels that contesting the bypolls would unnecessarily divert the attention of the party workers from preparing the ground for local body elections, those on the other side are of the opinion that they should take the poll plunge to energise and revive the cadre.
Though the decision on taking the poll plunge will be taken by the central leadership, sources said some of the senior leaders in the Rashtriya Lok Dal have approached the party requesting them to contest from the Khatauli Assembly seat to keep it from becoming a bipolar fight.
“We are going to contest the local body elections with full strength. As far as contesting the bypolls is concerned, discussions are going on and we would do as the party leadership asks us to,” new state president Brijlal Khabri told The Indian Express.
Whether the party should contest the bypolls or not, he said, “It is true that workers get a new energy when the party contests. The cadre gets strengthened but there are more factors that need to be looked into. The discussions are going on and we would soon take a decision.”
Khabri said recently that the party does not have time to contest the bypolls in the state as it would overlap with its preparations for the urban local body elections.
Khabri’s statement, a leader said, reflected the fact that the party cadre is still not ready in the state and the new team is still to get its new executive committee.
As when the new executive committee will be formed and if the delay would affect the party’s chances in the urban local body polls, whose notification is likely to be issued later this month, Khabri said, “I along with all zonal presidents am touring the state to gather feedback from the cadre. As of now, we plan to work with the existing executive committees and will make changes, as required, based on the feedback of the leaders touring the state.”
They have set the November 15 deadline to complete the state-wide tours and then take a decision on making changes in the executive committee and the district units. Senior party leaders, however, say that the task will not be easy as there were rumblings over appointment of new zonal heads who may form their own teams at the district level.
Also, there are other reasons behind the party shying away from the bypolls. First, the Congress last contested from the Mainpuri Lok Sabha seat, which fell vacant after the death of Samajwadi Party founder Mulayam Singh Yadav, in 2014 and has a little base in the Yadav family pocket borough.
The scenario is no better in the Khatauli and Rampur assembly segments.
Despite efforts of AICC general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra during the Assembly elections, the Congress candidates had finished fourth on both the seats.
In Rampur segment, which was bagged by SP leader Azam Khan, Congress’ Nawab Kazim Ali Khan got mere 4,000 votes, with BJP’s Akash Saxena remaining the runner-up with 76,084 votes. In Khatauli too, Congress’ Gaurav Bhati had a paltry 1,209 votes in his kitty.
It is for this reason that a section of leaders says that there is no point in taking the plunge as it would further embarrass the cadre.