Cancelling a scheduled press conference on Thursday evening in Lucknow, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra condoled the terrorist attack in Pulwama on CRPF jawans and said she grieved for the families. “I understand their pain,” she added.
Significantly, a sitting BJP MLA Avtar Singh Bhadana and a former BJP MLA Ram Lal Rahi called on her today amidst speculation that they are about to join the Congress. A formal announcement is expected tomorrow.
Meanwhile, opinion among regional leaders and workers appear to be divided on alliances and on the desirability of fielding Priyanka Gandhi Vadra in the Lok Sabha election.
To persistent requests from Congress leaders and workers to contest for a seat in the Lok Sabha, she indicated that she had no such plans at the moment.
Those who called on her in Lucknow confided that she firmly told her ‘wellwishers’ that her responsibility was to strengthen the party at the grass root level in the state.
A senior party leader from Varanasi, who met her on Thursday, claimed she told him, “She said that many other leaders had also asked her to contest from different constituencies but she told them that she would first strengthen the party at the Block level and then think about contesting elections.”
Priyanka told people that waving her hands at people would not fetch votes for the Congress. They needed to work at the ground level first. Only a strong base can transform support and expectations of masses into votes, the leader concurred.
“The Congress has a strong base in eastern UP compared to western and central UP. In 2009 when Congress won 21 seats, 15 of them were from eastern UP,” another Congress leader pointed out.
This issue generated much heat at Sharma Restaurant, bang opposite the main gates of the Nehru Bhawan where Congress leaders are passing time as Priyanka Gandhi continues with her one-to-one meetings with leaders.
“I tell you bhai sahib, the decision of Priyanka ji is correct,” a Congress leader said taking a long sip of tea. “She should not contest the election because it would be her first electoral battle. If she herself contests the election she would need to give more time in the constituency. Now, if she tours and interacts with party workers, it would yield more dividend.”
In the animated discussion, some were of the opinion that party should not go for an alliance. These small parties always ditch Congress, reflected some of them. “The best example is of Suheldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party of Om Prakash Rajbhar. The Congress groomed it and later Rajbhar joined hands with BJP,” he said.
“This may happen with Mahan Dal too. In 2014 Congress and Mahan Dal were allies. The party gave five seats to them. What happened?” he asked.