On the night of 25 July, the Congress party went on its much-hyped '27 saal, UP behaal' bus yatra in Kanpur. The intention of the road show was to highlight the reasons why Uttar Pradesh was in such a state of 'mess'.
Running far behind its schedule, senior Congress leaders failed to impress the residents of Kanpur when they made crowds wait for at least 3-4 hours. They did their cause no favours when they completely skipped visiting Muslim-dominated areas in the city leaving the Muslim Ulemas (clerics) and voters irked.
According to party sources, not all is well within the party as it is seeing an internal rift. Many senior Kanpur Congress leaders were kept on the sidelines ahead of the bus yatra with only a few 'preferred' leaders given responsibilities on the road show.
The route of the show was also a reason for conflict among members of the party. According to sources, Kanpur Congress President Harprakash Agnihotri was sidelined after he had suggested that the bus yatra route includes some Muslim-dominated areas, to which the party high command did not agree.
When questioned about the issue, Agnihotri told Catch that Muslim-dominated areas were excluded from the route due to water logging. His reply is not quite convincing as it is widely known that water logging is an issue in almost every locality of the city.
We are terrorists; we aren't important
Reacting to the decision of senior leaders, Haji Mohammad Salis, General Secretary of the All India Sunni Ulema Council, said that Congress was busy playing the Brahmin card and Muslims have ceased to be relevant for the party.
"Since recent times, Congress has been neglecting us; earlier, a secret meeting for Brahmins was organised in the city but no such meeting was conducted with Muslim leaders. They have probably perceived that all Muslims are terrorists or anti-national," said Salis.
Don't ignore the minority
Speaking to Catch, Mohd Isaaq, former corporator and Congress leader, said that if the Congress wants to revive its floundering fortunes, then it needs to pay some attention towards the minority community too. He was convinced that playing only the Brahmin card won't translate into a good performance in the Assembly election.
AC buses don't make sense
Speaking about the road show, Isaaq said that the leaders once again failed to sacrifice comfort for the sake of the party and its voters. He criticised the bus yatra, asserting that sitting in air-conditioned buses and waving at crowds is not what is expected from leaders. Voters want a mass leader, not a class leader, Isaaq pointed out.
Congress following the footprints of Modi
Expressing his disappointment with the bus yatra, Kanpur Shehar Qazi Alam Raza Noori said that Congress is following the footsteps of Prime Minister Narendra Modi by trying to woo Brahmin and other caste Hindu voters. "They have forgotten that Muslims were always with the Congress and not BJP. Congress shouldn't forget that they can't win if the Muslims decide to vote against the party," Noori stated.
He urged all the Muslims to vote for one party this election to prove that their vote is essential for forming the government in the state.
Failed to repeat history
Recalling the Rajiv Gandhi era, Yamin Chaudhary, a businessman, said that the Congress leaders failed to repeat history.
He said, "Once Rajiv Gandhi was in the city and his schedule was very tight, but he made sure that he visited Muslim-dominated areas before leaving the city. It was around 2 am when he finally met voters in these areas and listened to all their queries, problems, and suggestions.
But today, the Congress leaders don't want to make that kind of effort; they just sat in the air-conditioned bus and went to Ghanta Ghar to make 'false promises' without interacting with the people who kept waiting for the bus to pass through their areas."
Raj Babbar has more pull than Congress
Ghanta Ghar, the last stop in the yatra, saw the attendance of a good number of people, but many of them were there to catch a glimpse of actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar rather than to hear what the Congress leaders had to say. Rakesh Singh (50), a mechanic by profession, was present at Ghanta Ghar to see Raj Babbar. When asked about his thoughts on the future of Congress in the state, he said, "I am here to see Raj Babbar only, and I don't know about the party's future. However, seeing the results of other states, I don't think Congress would form the government here."
Another spectator, Haji Ali Hussain, said that he waited for Babbar to reach Ghanta Ghar so that he could stand on a chair near the stage and click a selfie.
'BJP has gone down to the fourth position in UP'
Sheila Dikshit, former chief minister of Delhi and Congress CM candidate in UP, was sure that Congress would form the government after a gap of 27 years in the state with a victory in the 2017 Assembly election. She claimed BJP has dropped to the fourth position in Uttar Pradesh.
UP Congress chief Raj Babbar said Dikshit would work for the development of the state just like she did in Delhi. He also attacked the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party, and BJP for their failure to make Uttar Pradesh a developed state.