Surging crowd and combative Priyanka augurs well for Congress in UP

On December 2, when Priyanka Gandhi addressed a rally in Muslim-dominated Moradabad, the massive crowd which had come to listen to her surprised the political pundits

Crowds cheered as Priyanka Gandhi spoke at the rally
Crowds cheered as Priyanka Gandhi spoke at the rally

NH Correspondent/Lucknow

On December 2, when Priyanka Gandhi addressed a rally in Muslim-dominated Moradabad, the massive crowd which had come to listen to her surprised the political pundits. The terrain is considered a Samajwadi Party bastion because of the high concentration of Muslims in that region. A few days earlier, she had addressed an equally impressive rally in Mahoba in Bundelkhand and early this week she along with Rahul Gandhi were in Amethi where they led a padayatra against BJP and price rise throwing a hint that nobody should take Congress lightly in this election.

Priyanka Gandhi is in the limelight of Uttar Pradesh politics for the last year and a half. She has appeared aggressive, combative, and relentless in targeting the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). She seems to have infused a new life into the Congress which is reflected in the surging crowd witnessed in her meetings.

The way she led the campaign against BJP after the Lakhimpur incident in which eight farmers and a journalist were mowed down by a speeding car of Union Minister of State Ajay Mishra `Teni’ ‘s son Ashish Mishra, caught the opposition parties unaware. Before the parties like Samajwadi Party and BSP could react, Priyanka was out on the streets, and despite the fact that she was arrested, she managed to meet families of the farmers who died in the violence. She also met the family members of the journalist killed in the incident.

That was the impetus the party needed. Once Priyanka infused the belief among the party workers, the rest was easy and this is reflected the way people are reacting to her calls.

Nomita P Kumar of Giri Institute of Development Studies (GIDS) in Lucknow said that the Congress in UP was in shambles. Priyanka has infused a new life into the party. Priyanka Gandhi has drawn crowds during her visit and looked successful in mobilising the party cadre. Even the top state leaders like UPCC president, Ajay Kumar Lallu and CLP leader Aradhana Mishra have hit the ground like grassroots party workers.

Dr SP Pandey of Pt Govind Ballabh Institute of Studies in Rural Development in Lucknow said that the biggest benefit Congress is getting from Priyanka Gandhi's campaign in Uttar Pradesh is that the party is being talked about in the press and public.

“However, it remains to be seen how much crowd the Congress can translate into votes in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls," he added.

What is visible today on the ground is not a one-day affair. A consistent hammering and planning have gone in rebuilding the party brick-by-brick. There were serious conflicts within the Congress and the conflict between the old and the young was palpable. For over a year, Priyanka worked on these internal issues and transformed the party into a well-oiled machine.

“People are coming to listen to Priyanka because she has ears to the grounds. She is giving voice to the pain of the masses,” Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee Secretary Dheeraj Gurjar said.

He made a valid point because in her rally in Moradabad, she hit out at the Centre, alleging that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had Rs 8,000 crore to buy a private aircraft but the government does not have money to clear the dues of sugarcane farmers.

Realising that farmers in western UP are struggling to get the cane dues she further said: "It will take only Rs 4,000 crore to clear all dues of sugarcane farmers. PM Modi bought a private aircraft for Rs 8,000 crore last year during Covid-19. Center is paying Rs 20,000 crore for the beautification of Parliament but does not have money to pay your dues."

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