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‘Take to the streets’: Congress’ one point formula for revival in UP

Atul Chandra | Updated on: 4 August 2017, 14:37 IST
(Chandan Khanna/AFP)

After its poor showing in the 2017 Assembly elections, the Congress is once again trying to revive itself in Uttar Pradesh.

“Yes, the effort to revive the party is on. State president Raj Babbarji has asked us to take up all the important local issues and he will join the protest even if the number of protesters is as small as 500,” said party spokesperson Surendra Rajput.

There are several issues like deteriorating law and order, GST, political corruption as seen in Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar and high prices of vegetables, which the party would be taking up at the district level to increase its support base.

Swayam Prakash Goswami has been made the head of the party’s Jan Andolan Committee, which plans to launch the August Kranti Diwas with a series protests against the Central and Uttar Pradesh governments from August 9, a day after the launch date of Quit India Movement on August 8.

At the heart of the party’s revival plan are villagers. Although not directly linked, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visited the office of National Highways Authority of India with a delegation of farmers and traders on Tuesday and gave a memorandum protesting their harassment.

The issue pertained to the widening of NH-56 that passes through Jagdishpur in Amethi, the parliamentary constituency of Rahul Gandhi. The villagers complained that they had not been paid adequate compensation for their land and their shops and houses were also being demolished.

The Congress scion, who was accompanied by Raj Babbar and Jitin Prasada, accused the Bharatiya Janata Party government of flouting procedures in acquiring farmers’ land.

In accordance with the party leadership’s emphasis on taking up the cause of villagers, traders and weaker sections, the UP Congress Committee’s agitation plan includes a ‘Chalo Gaon Kee Or’, move towards villages, a month-long agitation -- from August 30 to September 30 -- organising village level chaupals, noting down problems faced by farmers and villagers.

As per the calendar of these protests, demonstrations will be held at district headquarters on October 15 to raise the problems being faced by the people in rural areas.

The party will wind up its protests on December 28, its foundation day, by launching another series of agitations against the Narendra Modi government. The next phase of agitation would continue till the 2019 elections, Rajput said.  

Even before the state Assembly elections the Congress party’s focus was on farmers. The Gandhi family scion’s ‘khaat pe charcha’, which began from eastern UP, may have ended in people laughing at him after the audience took away the cots on which they were supposed to sit and hear him speak, but it did create a buzz. During his Deoria to Dilli kisan yatra, Rahul Gandhi raised issues like waiving farm loan and uninterrupted power supply to farmers.

The campaign during which Rahul Gandhi crisscrossed the state, proved unproductive as the party decided to go in for seat sharing with the Samajwadi Party. Out of the 100 seats it contested the party could win just seven.

With the party fast losing ground in UP and some other states, the 2019 elections may turn out to be a watershed moment for the Congress. Remember that in 2014, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi were the only Congress MPs who managed to retain their seats in Uttar Pradesh.

Given the aggressive manner in which the BJP is pushing the Congress into a corner, the Grand Old Party has to do more to make its presence felt.

First published: 4 August 2017, 14:38 IST